Summer adventure with Schlumberger

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For an ambitious student there is no better way to spend summer vacation rather than doing an internship and I was lucky enough to go for the six weeks during summer 2017 to UK as an intern in Drilling & Measurements Department, Schlumberger. Here is the story of one of the best summers I had so far…

We all started together, along with the rest of European interns, from HSE training and Introduction in Westhill, UK. For three days we had a possibility to discover company policies, structures and businesses. Taking the opportunity that we were at the moment all living together in the area of Aberdeen we were spending evenings sightseeing the city and getting to know each other. What’s more our wonderful mentor and my manager took us out one evening so we could talk in a more relaxed atmosphere. It was a great opportunity for us to meet other SLB’s employees and get an insight about their work.

After that we were transferred to our direct bases, which for me was in Dyce. Thanks to one of the trainees, who took care of us at the beginning we were able to get to know the base, daily life of all employees and spent some time in the workshop. We were learning about the tools and jobs that people do in the base do on a daily basis. Everyone were very friendly and willing to share their knowledge. It was a good experience to see how many projects are being handled there and how many people are working to provide the best service possible to the clients. We didn’t get the chance to get used to the office life because already at the end of our first week we got the info that we are starting offshore survival training in order to go offshore if needed. New adventure – great! The training took five days and started with two days of HSE training again. For a while I was irritated that we were repeating same things we’ve learned just a week ago but soon I understood why. I was aware of the fact that working in O&G Industry is demanding, often the environment is very harsh and dangerous, but I didn’t know that it is one of the safest Industries in the UK. According to researches it is even safer to work in O&G than in Education or Civil Engineering! And it is due to the fact that companies are investing in rising the awareness among their employees and in the newest technologies to make our work safer.

After every module of the training we were taking a test to prove the knowledge that we have gained and that we are ready to move on to further topics. The training was concluded with two days of practical training and assessment during which we needed to get out from a room on fire or escape drowning helicopter. Of course all of the exercises were just simulations and we were being observed by our instructors or divers but still the sensations were unforgettable. It was both scary and exciting to me and I was hoping that maybe we’ll get the chance to go offshore for few days if I’ll be lucky… But right after we finished the training on Friday we got the info that we’re actually going offshore on Monday. After a short briefing I knew that I was flying to Cork, Ireland and then to a drillship, StenaIceMAX as a sample catcher in Mud logging (Geoservices). I was supposed to stay there for one week which later extended to three weeks and it was great because I could learn much more about the drilling process, the ship, the services and people working there than during a few days stay.

I arrived on Tuesday very excited about my very first chopper flight and stay offshore. The ship and the crew was very helpful and friendly, they helped me very much to accommodate on the ship, which was important to me as a newbie offshore. I also needed to get used to the night shift and it took me few days. At the moment they were not drilling but running a riser hence there’s not much work for mudlogging and we’re getting ready for drilling which was planned to start on Saturday so I was preparing bags for the samples, labelling them and in the meantime observing mud engineer testing sensors. As drilling started I needed to collect various samples of the cuttings and the mud. It isn’t a rocket science but as you are constantly observing drilling parameters (to know when you should go for the next sample or when you can expect a little break to have a dinner ;))  you’re learning about the correlations between them and the drilling process. I also learned from our Data Analyst, that it is important to pay attention if there are notably bigger pieces of rock showing on shakers as this may be a sign of increasing pressure in the formation. Whenever the ROP was allowing me to have a break I was looking at samples with our Mud loggers and geologists, later I learned how to do calcimetry (a test allowing to determine the amount of calcium carbonate in our cuttings). There were some nights quite tiring, for example when we were drilling quite fast – 40 m/h therefore I was catching samples every 15 minutes so after that I was sore and tired but thankfully this marvelous ship is equipped with sauna which brought me a huge relief. During drilling few breaks I was spending my time with guys from MI-SWACO and our DA, who explained me lots of his job tasks, the technology behind the sensors that they’re using and measurements done, there, in mud logging. He showed me all the sensors and explained in the smallest bits how they work, you could tell that he’s really passionate about his job.

The plan for the next few days on the rig was to run the casing, cement it and start drilling the next section ASAP. Unfortunately, as there was a storm forecasted we needed to detach the riser from the seafloor due to safety reasons so that has postponed the drilling a little. Due to the weather conditions we also had problems with the internet connection. We spent those shifts on labeling and housekeeping because we needed to secure our loose equipment as well as the boxes with samples to avoid them moving during the storm. Fortunately we survived that storm, it wasn’t as bad as we expected it to be.

Stena IceMAX is the most expensive drillship ever built, our client was drilling an exploration, deepwater well so the technology that was being used there is very impressive. The aim of the internship is to learn as much as possible, so when there was no drilling I was visiting guys from different services, learning about Data Analyst or FLAIR Engineer job. I really enjoyed being a part of such a big and demanding project and I’m glad that I met there so many friendly people who were willing to share their knowledge. The thing that impressed me the most was the ROV equipment from Oceaneering company. It is used to control the work of BOP and the operations of running and disconnecting a riser. It amazes me that thanks to this technology we are able to work on the seabed which is 2 km below us and sometimes even observe some animals living there which were interested in this equipment. Like I said, the ship crew was extremely helpful and nice, the Assistant Driller took me to the very top of the derrick so I could see the whole platform and immensity of the ocean on the horizon, I was attending safety and organizational meetings with all of the most important people on the ship, I even took part in a training on Well Control organized during the drilling break. Even though there are so many different companies engaged in one project there is no rivalry, everyone are working together for the common target and are eager to cooperate.

During the internship I was assigned a project which was to carry out a calibration of Reserval Chromatoghraph and Total Hydrocarbon Gas. Reserval is the instrument used by Geoservices and it’s also the name of the service offered to clients. It’s aim is to determine the amount of alkanes containing in mud returns. Reserval gas system is an instrument which separates hydrocarbons alkanes containing from 1 to 5 (methane to normal-pentane) particles of carbon in a capillary column producing an analytical result via gas chromatography. It is also often the only instrument providing real time data regarding gas content. Calibration is a procedure that relates an output quantity to an input quantity and measures system under given conditions. Knowing the vapor point of measured gases the time of adsorption is determined and we can input this data to the Reserval. This way we can check exactly how much gas we have in a given interval of time.  Precise calibration validates the general function of the Reserval gas analyser and is mandatory when starting up the Reserval in a new location. Calibration check for this system has to be done every week and two Reservals are used- Main one and a backup. During my stay on the ship we had doubts whether the system is working correctly so considering the fact that there was no drilling planned for the day we decided to run a full calibration. The difference between full procedure and a check is as follows. During calibration we have to set the settings regarding times of adsorption, expected pressures and theoretical concentration of our gases to the system to be sure that they comply with original settings basing on Standard working instruction available to all employees. Calibration check is basing on the original settings and requires injecting predefined concentrations of gases. Calibration and quality checks are based on GSS-SWI-002-0021B standard working instruction. It is run by sequentially injecting various predefined concentrations of calibration gas to the Reserval and comparing the results to previous calibrations. If the difference exceeds 5% the recalibration must be performed. Once the calibration is completed the logs will be issued.

High-quality, reliable hydrocarbon analysis is critical for having safe and efficient drilling operations. Having knowledge about the content of C1-nC5 gases and total hydrocarbons (total gas) in mud returns gives the opportunity to monitor gas safety levels in shakers room and on a drill floor and characterize formations and reservoirs. Chromatograph calibration and regular quality checks provide certainty that the results and logs received from the gas system are accurate.

The amount of knowledge that I’ve gained during this internship is huge. Due to the fact I’m studying Petroleum Engineering I could apply my academic knowledge to the things I saw in the DnM base or on the ship but I would never be able to gain this amount of practical knowledge at the University. That is why I am grateful that I was given such a remarkable opportunity. DnM services are the center of drilling operations, they gather real time data and are vital to  successful and safe operations. Being a part of Schlumberger, even for a short time, has given me insight to all of the aspects of drilling, I was able to work along great professionals and my work was actually useful. I was given the tools, knowledge and tasks that were a part of daily life of the service. On the other hand  I could also see the perks of working in this industry – it often requires you to be away from home for long weeks, work in unusual and often unfriendly conditions and you never know when you’re coming back or how long you’ll stay at home, because you can be bumped from a helicopter and informed half an hour in advance (like I was). This is the reality of the Industry and I see it as a plus of the internship that no one will hide it from you. In my opinion, this unpredictability undoubtedly makes your life very adventurous, exciting and you get to travel a lot. I was also very lucky to be assigned to the Stena IceMAX, very high standard ship and I’m aware of the fact that not always the conditions offshore are that good. In conclusion, I think I came back from Scotland as a much more experienced engineer than I was before, I know that I will be able to use this knowledge in my future and I hope to come back there one day.

 

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