Operations Manager

From a graduate to an Operations Manager

A product of our graduate development programme, George Makhlouta has 15 years of progress at Petrofac to look back at. Now an Operations Manager at the Iraq Crude Oil Export Expansion Project (ICOEEP) project, he tells us about his career with the Company.

George, can you tell us more about your beginnings at Petrofac?

I have a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and Masters of Science in Power and Energy, and further completed a degree in Business Management from Balamand University in Lebanon. When I graduated, it was a great opportunity to join a leading company with a clear strategy for growth. Petrofac's graduate programme, though in its developing stage, opened the door for graduates to gain experience and use their learning and initiatives to develop within a dynamic organisation.

What is your role at Petrofac?

As an Operations Manager, I am working on the Iraq Crude Oil Export Expansion Project (ICOEEP). I am responsible for managing a team of Petrofac employees and key subcontractors to ensure the export of Iraq’s key contributor to its economy. The role includes the full cycle of operations and maintenance which encapsulates supply chain, logistics and asset integrity to ensure the operation is a success. The operations team includes more than 300 people with different skills ranging from engineers, to technicians and divers, as well as 14 vessels complete with crew. We operate, and are fully responsible for, one of the world’s largest independent metering platforms.

George joined as a graduate electrical engineer and progressed to an Operations Manager

"I enjoy my career and each day at Petrofac. It is helping me develop both personally and professionally and I hope to continue my career progression in Operations Management to deliver successful projects and enhance the company’s reputation."
George Makhlouta Operations Manager

How has your career developed?

I joined Petrofac as a graduate electrical engineer. During the early years, I developed my knowledge of solar energy and became the subject matter expert on solar power in the electrical department. By the end of 2012 I joined our Offshore Projects and Operations business as a project engineer. I was interested in the holistic operations function and through this interest and desire to learn I progressed to my current role as an Operations Manager.

What is the most exciting project you have been involved in so far?

Definitely the ICOEEP project, through which we export in excess of 2.1 million barrels of oil per day. Working on this project has its own challenges, its isolation and being in Iraq, forces us to continuously find innovative solutions to challenges. In this project we applied for two EVE [internal ‘Excellence – Values – Energy’ awards] applications.

The first application was when our client wanted us to move a Single Point Mooring (SPM) to a storage yard. The SPM is built and designed to be lifted using a high capacity crane. We implemented an innovative method of lifting the SPM using a boatlift instead of a traditional crane. Not only did this novel method comply with our safety standards by eliminating the high-risk lift, it also reduced the cost by almost 65%.

The wining application was for actions taken by the team which averted a regional economic and ecological disaster. It all started when a Petrofac watchkeeper identified a fire at a nearby client accommodation platform, Petrofac and our subcontractor (SmitLamnalco) immediately enacted the Emergency Response Plan and deployed a firefighting and rescue operation to the scene. Some 90 people were rescued, and a regional economic and ecological disaster averted.

Have you enjoyed training and development support at the Company?

Petrofac has a unique graduate programme that includes both technical and soft skills training. The programme equipped me with the right skills and mindset to be a finalist in our EVE Awards, Innovation category in 2012, Highly Commended in 2016 under Innovation category, and Winner in 2019 in the Responsive category.

Petrofac has also supported my career progression in different parts of the business, which has provided me with lots of exposure in several key areas of the oil and gas industry.

I have been offered the opportunity to attend various training courses which helped me acquire the required skills for my role. Most recently the MLDP programme helped me widen my views with respect to leadership and strategies in our business.

Accepting an internal EVE award at a ceremony in Abu Dhabi in 2019

Are there any travel opportunities? If so, where to?

From day one with Petrofac the nature of our work required me to be mobile. This included going to fabrication shops, vendor and site visits (Onshore and Offshore), inspections and client meetings. I travel regularly to Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Africa. The travel could be a simple few hour’s car journey to a couple of hours flight or even 18 hours on a tug boat.

What would you say to someone considering joining the graduate programme at Petrofac?

Take advantage of every second you have in the programme and accept any challenge thrown at you!

I enjoy my career and each day at Petrofac. It is helping me develop both personally and professionally and I hope to continue my career progression in Operations Management to deliver successful projects and enhance the company’s reputation.