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A day in the life of…
Process Safety Engineer at ConocoPhillips
Sarah Curry graduated in 2014 from Curtin University with a degree in Chemical Engineering and is now a part of the Engineering team supporting the Australia Pacific LNG facility located on Curtis Island, Queensland.
Sarah’s journey with ConocoPhillips started in 2013 as a SPIRIT scholarship recipient and vacation student. She spent time in both the Perth and Darwin offices as a part of the Process Engineering team supporting the Darwin LNG facility. Since joining the company as a Graduate Engineer in 2015 she has held three exciting positions across two business locations. Sarah started her graduate program in Brisbane as part of the Process Safety team as the Australia Pacific LNG facility was moving from construction and commissioning into steady-state operations. She then moved into the role of Graduate Process Engineer where she was part of the Brisbane-based Process Engineering team providing technical support to the facility. For her final rotation Sarah moved up to Gladstone into the role of Graduate Site-based Process Engineer and was based at the Australia Pacific LNG facility for 1.5 years.
This is what a typical day looked like as a site-based Graduate Process Engineer…
First alarm. Time to start considering getting out of bed…
Second alarm. Okay, time to get ready to start the day!
Drive to the ferry terminal to travel across to the Australia Pacific LNG facility located on Curtis Island. The terminal is about a 20-minute drive from the Gladstone town centre. You often catch some fantastic sunrises and glimpses of wildlife on the early morning commute. The 6:30AM ferry ride is around 15 minutes long, and it’s not uncommon to see dolphins jumping around. The Australia Pacific LNG facility is located within the Great Barrier Reef World heritage area which is home to all sorts of brilliant marine wildlife.
Ferry docks at Curtis Island. I disembark and walk from the jetty to the Main Control and Administration Building. The Central Control Room (CCR) is located in this building, along with some key technical personnel to support our Operations. The Australia Pacific LNG Facility has been in Operation since the end of 2015, with its first LNG cargo shipped in January 2016 after nearly five years of development and construction. Australia Pacific LNG is the largest producer of natural gas sourced from coal seams in eastern Australia, supplying Australian customers with natural gas and customers in Asia with liquefied natural gas (LNG). Australia Pacific LNG is a major supplier to Queensland’s domestic gas market, supplying many Gladstone industrial customers with gas.
Pre-start meeting with Operations and Maintenance. We discuss the activities planned for the day and clarify any support required by the team. I often leave this meeting with some actions around providing support to Operations personnel, whether it be around what flowrates to operate at or advice around how to operate while some pieces of equipment are taken offline for routine maintenance. Today I have been asked to provide some feedback around operating a bypass while the pressure indicator that controls it has some routine maintenance performed.
Review operations over the last 24 hours and catch up with the Panel Operators in the CCR to discuss. The best thing about being in a site-based role is developing a relationship with, and learning from, the Operations personnel. They have a very detailed knowledge of the facility and I always learn something when I talk to an Operator. It’s also a great opportunity to swap perspectives on any observed issues to work through to a solution.
Report findings of previous 24 hours of operation back to key personnel in Brisbane. Continue with my workfronts around facility improvements and providing technical support.
Attend our daily Integrated Operations meeting. This meeting is held between site personnel and personnel based in our Brisbane office, and is a forum used to discuss important topics such a safety as well as any key activities on the horizon which will require technical support from Brisbane. The meeting is chaired by the Operations Superintendent who manages the Operations shift and day-to-day activities at site. This meeting is also an opportunity for people to share progress on any key workfronts being developed by the team, as well as any further requests for support.
Attend daily maintenance planning meeting. This meeting is facilitated by the Maintenance Planners and is attended by key personnel from the Operations, Maintenance and technical support teams. This meeting is used to review and discuss maintenance requests and ensure they are assigned the appropriate priority and planned in accordingly.
Get back to my workfronts. I have been asked to review the setpoints of some alarms on a piece of equipment and provide some feedback to our Instrumentation Team.
I make a start on developing a procedure to enable Operations to carry out a chemical wash on a piece of equipment. I finished marking up the Piping & Instrumentation Diagrams yesterday so now just need to detail the steps to perform the activity.
Team meeting with the rest of the Process Team in Brisbane. I report on the status of my workfronts and any issues I have come across. It’s interesting to learn what the other people in the team have been working on and what they have found.
Attend the fortnightly shipping schedule meeting chaired by the Marine Department. We review the timing of our upcoming LNG cargoes and discuss any issues.
I chair our weekly gas nominations meeting. Key people from the Operations team and the Process team discuss anything in the next couple of weeks which may impact how much feed gas we are able to process through the facility. Australia Pacific LNG is a joint venture between ConocoPhillips, Origin Energy and Sinopec, with Origin Energy operating Australia Pacific LNG’s gas fields, upstream production and pipeline system, while ConocoPhillips operates the downstream LNG export facility and the LNG export sales business. This means we work with our upstream partner by ‘nominating’ the amount of feed gas into the facility we are targeting each day. In the meeting we discuss and align on the nomination figures to send to Origin. I email out the figures following the meeting.
Pack up for the ferry home! I quickly review my to-do list and write some notes for things to follow up on tomorrow. Time to walk to jetty to board the 3:45 ferry back to the mainland.
I disembark the ferry and walk to my car. Time for the drive home.
After relaxing at home for a bit, I get changed and head off to soccer training. I play soccer with a local Gladstone club. We train two nights a week and have a game on the weekend. My club has two teams, one in the top division and the other in the lower division. It’s been about 10 years since I last played soccer, but I picked it up again when I moved up to Gladstone. It’s a fun way to meet new people and stay fit. And sometimes we win which sweetens the deal!
Training has wrapped up for the night and I’m on my way home. Phew!