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MARK IS THE PETROFAC REPRESENTATIVE FOR OUR JOINT VENTURE WITH BECHTEL AND ACTS AS DEPUTY PROJECT DIRECTOR, ALONGSIDE HIS BECHTEL COUNTERPART
My alarm goes off… at 5.30 am. The plant is halfway between Abu Dhabi and Dubai – it’s quite isolated and the nearest town is 10 km away. I live in Dubai, which is about a 45-minute drive to the plant. I then start work at 7 am. At the height of the project, we were working long hours and had 170 Petrofac people on the project. Now we are demobilising and there are around 31 Petrofac people.
I used to work for Bechtel… before I joined Petrofac, it’s one of the main reasons that I came to work on this project. Being ex-Bechtel means I understand how they work; this has been useful as the project has been run using their systems, work processes and procedures – I even have a Bechtel email address. According to our agreement, we have to make significant decisions together, so I work closely with the Bechtel project director day to day and regularly attend meetings with him, the team and EGA.
I have a reputation in Petrofac… for dealing with unique and complex projects. Since joining the company 11 years ago, I’ve managed an oil field redevelopment project for a branch of ADNOC in Abu Dhabi. I then ran an offshore marginal gas field development in Malaysia, which involved a wellhead platform and upgrading a floating production vessel. And before Al Taweelah, I oversaw upgrading of a semi-submersible floating production rig in Gdansk, Poland.
My day varies… throughout the project life cycle. So, for instance, I was heavily involved in procurement and managing purchase orders and contracts when I first joined the project – we spent in excess of US$1 billion on materials and equipment for the project.
Project management… is about managing the relationship with the customer and building trust with them, so they are confident that your team can deliver the project on time and on budget. It’s also about change management. Bechtel used a ‘trends’ document, in which we would quantify potential changes and sign them off with the customer. I then managed changes to our contract and the budgets for the project.
The best part of my job… is seeing the completed project and being able to say: ‘We designed and built that’. I’ve been a project director for a long time but I still get a great sense of satisfaction from this. Although Petrofac had a relatively small team onsite, our local knowledge was critical, and we made things happen – the customer appreciated that. For example, Petrofac provided emergency procurement during the later stages of the project, procuring additional materials needed on an urgent basis through our knowledge.
After work… I have something to eat, watch a TV show, then I’m in bed before 10 pm. In the heat of the project I wouldn’t get home until after 6 pm or 7 pm. Now we are in close-out mode there is less pressure on my time. I love sailing, travelling and photography when I get a chance.
My plan B was… an investment banker. I have an MBA from Cranfield University and tried to go into investment banking, but I got drawn back to engineering and construction.
“Although Petrofac had a relatively small team onsite, our local knowledge was critical.”
WORDS CHRISTINA McPHERSON
IMAGES NEVILLE HOPWOOD
PUBLISHED SEPTEMBER 2019