How did you get into working for OMS? I sent my CV out to various organisations within the Oil and Gas Industry as it was an industry I had previously worked in when I was younger and I was keen to get back into the industry as I was unhappy with the work I was doing before I started working for OMS as a contractor. My CV landed on the desk of a director at OMS the very day they’d had a meeting about hiring someone to implement ISO 9001 and also to help out with some technical author work. I was called in for an interview and was offered the chance to work for OMS at the interview.
After finishing the tasks I was originally hired for I then went on to become a field operator working on different projects around the globe using OMS’s equipment and technology to help oil and gas clients and EPC contractors achieve stringent project specifications.
What were you doing before? My background is in mechanical and electrical engineering and also quality and HSE. Using my experience of engineering I applied this to quality, HSE and Environmental management systems and became a consultant and an ISO 9001, 14001 and OHSAS 18001 Auditor for a certification body. This work involved a lot of daily travelling and living in several different hotels most of the working week which I was unhappy/unsatisfied with.
How long? I have been doing work for OMS since 2010 making me one of the longest serving contractors OMS still use to date.
Describe the life of a contractor. The life of a contractor for OMS is quite diverse, I get to be involved in many different aspects of the pipeline industry and use various different equipment and technologies. I also get to be involved with the QC, HSE and the engineering aspects of the industry. I’ve travelled to many different parts of the world and carried out projects in many different types of facilities on and offshore.
However being a contractor has some downfalls, projects may run on longer than anticipated or projects may need you to mobilise within a moment’s notice. This can sometimes make it hard to plan your time away from work with the family and sometimes you may have to work through Christmas or family celebrations. I do however think that the benefits of being a contractor in work do out way the downfalls.
Photo 1.Neil and Colleagues in Nigeria with Armed Guards
Memories of an early project. I have very vivid memories of the first field work project I did for OMS in Nigeria. At the time Nigeria was considered to be a very high risk country to work in as there had been several kidnappings of foreign oil and gas workers. Due to the high risk my accommodation was a guarded compound which was very nice inside, however I had to leave this safe area to travel to the port where I was carrying out some pipe inspection work. The travel consisted of a 5 vehicle convoy, a mini bus in the middle which I travelled in and then 2 military style pickups in front and 2 behind all containing 4 to 6 armed guards. The experience of travelling to the worksite was quite nervy to say the least.
Best project. The best project is probably the longest project I’ve done which consisted of 5 months Smartfit at Subsea 7’s spool base in Ubu, Brazil. I got to see the project from the first pipe welded onto the first stalk until the last pipe welded onto the last stalk. It was quite satisfying to see the project from start to finish and be a part of the team that made it a successful project finished on time.
Most difficult project. This has got to be a weld inspection job I did for Kencana Petroleum in Lumut, Malaysia. The job involved using an articulated weld inspection camera and a separate laser inspection tool to inspect manual TIG weld roots on PLETs and Sleds, this involved getting the inspection tools through the top of the manifold and round tricky bends. It was very difficult to get the tool around the bends and position it in exactly the correct place to be able to run the inspection camera and/or laser tool. Adding to the complexity of the inspection was carrying the equipment up and down the scaffold and working in excessive heat.
Photo 2. Neil using an articulated weld inspection camera onsite in Lumut, Malaysia
How has your life changed over this period? My life has changed immensely over the time period of working for OMS. When I first started I was unmarried with no children and living in the U.K. I now live in Thailand (due to the variation of project locations I’m basically free to live wherever I want), I’m now 4 years married and have beautiful twin girls which are 2 years old.
It can be quite pressurised on some contracts – describe the pressure, how do you deal with it. The pressure can definitely build up on some projects especially the ones offshore as any downtime is equal to serious amounts of money and potential profits. The pressure can build up for any amount of reasons which may result in problems I myself or other OMS operators have to sort out, these can range from equipment problems to rejection of pipes from the firing line (for several reasons). When production is stopped and the solution relies on the ability of an OMS operator to sort out the problem, all eyes from every direction are on you, this can be quite stressful to say the least.
Having to deal with this sort of pressure takes a certain person, I myself have taught myself the skill of being able to focus purposefully on a single activity without distraction, so even though there may be lots of other activities going on around me and others trying to intervene, I try to keep my focus on the problem only and block out any other things going on around me that are not helpful to the problem solution.
My other trick of staying on top of pressure is allowing myself time to switch off when my shift is over and participate in some activities to take my mind of what might have been a stressful day or what might be a stressful day to come. Physical activities such as fitness activities are a must for me after work, it keeps me healthy and the saying is ‘health body healthy mind’.
Photo 3. Neil Mitchinson having a well deserved break