People and projects from around the PETROFAC world

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WHere we work




Gareth MacGlennon has always been fascinated with the environment and natural world. “I was one of those strange kids who knew exactly what I wanted to study and where at ten years old,” he remembers.

The course and university in question were Marine Biology at Bangor University in North Wales, renowned across Europe at the time for its environmental programme.

After graduating, the degree took him to incredible locations like the Maldives, Brunei, and even Antarctica, where he was the UK Government representative overseeing fishing activity.

“Working in industry, and more specifically fisheries, was the natural progression in my career. I was always keen to work in industry rather than academia. One of my early roles saw me placed on a Chilean fishing vessel going around the Antarctic coast for six months,” he says. “When I got onboard, I discovered no one could speak English, so I had to learn Spanish very quickly. When I wasn’t working, I’d sit with the crew below deck to learn. It was a great experience.”

It was his first taste of compliance and regulation, which led to him working for numerous energy operators looking at how to protect marine life during oil and gas exploration. Gareth describes his career as a “series of small steps” and indeed, many of those operators were Petrofac clients, such as ADNOC.

“Petrofac being a tier one engineering firm caught my attention,” he explains, when asked what attracted him to the company. “I was really inspired by the focus on new energies, as that’s the direction the industry is going in. As an environmental professional, being right at the forefront of this is a good position to be in. You are leading the change rather than being reactive to it. You are in the driving seat.”

Gareth’s role at Petrofac – Principal Environmental Engineer – was newly created last year. He is part of the Risk, Safety and Environment team based in Woking and supports multiple projects across the business. “Compared to other disciplines, I have a smaller input to projects but a wider breadth,” he says. “I’m lucky, as I’m exposed to nearly every project we’ve got coming out of the Woking office.”

Giving our clients a more rounded service

Where traditionally Petrofac would focus on the engineering scope of a project, the Woking office is extending the consultancy services available to clients. This will focus on safety and environmental compliance.

“Currently, our clients tend to go to another party to do their permits, licensing and planning applications – for example, Environment Impact Assessments,” he says. “We can offer this as well, and it will be much more streamlined for our clients, where the RSE team can work side by side with other engineering disciplines to deliver these additional items. We will be able to offer much more to clients than we have done to date.”

So, how does Gareth approach a project? The first step is assessing the legal requirements in the relevant jurisdictions, which he says can vary greatly from country to country; he then takes a step back and looks at industry best practice and international codes of practice. He will also identify risks to the environment and suggest mitigations. “It’s about improving the environmental performance regardless of where it is in the world,” he adds.

One country that does have a mature legislative framework is the UK and the government has also recently introduced new legislation that will have a profound impact on projects in the future. Of course, Gareth is keeping abreast of the changes.
“The aim of the government is for the UK to become a world leader in terms of environmental protection. There will be major changes in planning around net gain biodiversity, so any environmental impact caused has to be quantified and offset. I think we’ll see other countries using the legislation as a template.”

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“This is how I’ve always wanted to work – finding practical ways of protecting the environment while allowing sustainable development to occur.”

Gareth MacGlennon

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One of Petrofac’s projects in New Zealand

A bright future

While the aim is to grow the environmental consultancy service at Woking, for now Gareth is excited about where his career is heading. “This is how I’ve always wanted to work – finding practical ways of protecting the environment while allowing sustainable development to occur.

“We have energy needs, food needs, populations are increasing. These issues aren’t going to go away, so the way around that is balancing our needs against environmental protection. So, one doesn’t come at the expense of the other.”

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The rest, as they say, is history.

“What we achieved, especially between April and July 2020, was phenomenal,” adds Construction Director Mohammed Shaheen. “As the Covid-19 pandemic intensified, we felt insulated from it, as though our site was the safest place on earth. And, as the whole world came crashing down, Ghazeer kept pushing forward.”

Ultimately, the project was delivered two months early. Some 19 million hours were safely completed, without a single lost-time incident (LTI). bp was able to put the project into production in October 2020. And this will surely go down in the annals of Petrofac history as one of the company’s most impressive performances.

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Mohammed Shaheen

What’s your proudest moment in your career so far?
I previously worked as a contractor for ADNOC, doing seismic exploration in what was a UN-protected marine biosphere reserve. When I started the project, the government were unclear on how they could minimise damage to the environment while exploring for oil and gas. I put together standards, trained personnel, published papers and presented at conferences. The end result was that the environmental agency for Abu Dhabi took my report to a UN summit and achieved their redesignation as a UN-protected area. This is a good example of how I wanted to work: protecting the environment while helping the client to achieve their aims.

Where is the most unusual place you’ve worked?
My first job out of university was working for the Brunei royal family, although I didn’t realise until I got out there. That was a good start! I also helped to complete the first 3D seismic survey of offshore Greenland; navigating around icebergs was interesting. While working in Antarctica, I also stayed with the British Antarctic Survey for a few days on South Georgia Island. I slept out on the ice, visited seal and penguin colonies, and saw Ernest Shackleton’s grave.

Do you enjoy the outdoors?
I live in North Wales and my house overlooks Snowdonia National Park, so I enjoy getting out and about. I recently got a puppy called Shelby too, so I’m spending a lot of time with him out walking.


Who do you most admire?
I’m a little old-fashioned in that Charles Darwin has always been my hero, although being a biologist that’s probably natural! There are so many incredible people working in the environmental field now. When I first started, there were only a few high-profile voices promoting the environment such as David Attenborough and Rachel Carson among others, but in my relatively short career, it’s changed so much. There’s been such a culture shift. We now see a focus on the environment and the need to make changes all around us; I really admire all the individuals that dedicate their lives to this.

What books on the environment would you recommend?
The resources available on the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment website are fantastic and a good starting point. They are a professional body, which has helped me to develop over the last few years. They are at the forefront of what is happening in the UK. A life on our Planet: My witness statement and a vision for the future, by David Attenborough is also a fantastic book.

What’s the best advice you’ve received?
Have confidence in yourself and just go for it. I’ve always been willing to take on new projects and that inevitably leads to progression. Step out of your comfort zone and believe in yourself.

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