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Petroleum Engineering Student in the Subsurface Department of Maersk Oil Qatar


Ahmad Amra is studying for his Bachelor of Science in Petroleum Engineering at Texas A&M University in Qatar (TAMUQ). He’s three years into his course and he joined the subsurface department of Maersk Oil Qatar for a two month internship. See below his account of three days on offshore:

Day 1:

familiarising myself with the drilling rig

My offshore visit was arranged to help me and two fellow-TAMUQ interns (Anam and Elsiddig) better understand how the theories we’re studying at university are applied in real life situations, says Ahmad.

We spent the first day familiarising ourselves with the drilling rig and getting to know all the tools that we’ve learnt about at university. I got the chance to see some of the operations that I usually only hear or read about. I saw how the theoretical models can sometimes go wrong, and how the specialists deal with this. And I got the chance to do some real work on the rig, helping the well services team.

I watched as the driller and the tool pushers spent four hours putting the pipes and collars in the rotary table and then down the hole. While some people may have found this boring, there were always challenges to overcome – which for someone studying Petroleum Engineering was fascinating and exciting to see.

Day 2:

(well, almost)

After two and a half hours sleep, the Hydrogen Sulphide (H2S) alarm sounded on the rig and a message followed: this is not a drill, please proceed to the muster point immediately. I rushed to put my Self-Controlled Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) on and tried to walk calmly to the muster point. The guys we’d been with on the drill floor came over and helped me connect my SCBA to the air supply and adjust my mask; it really felt like we were one family.

The all clear was soon given and we returned to our beds. I couldn’t sleep much after that, so 3-hours later I got up and went down to see what the well services team were doing. I watched them check the down-hole gauge by connecting it to a device that can see if it’s reading the correct pressure and temperature. Then they took me on another tour and showed me all the completion tools that are used, from packers, to gas lift valves, control lines and spoolers.

I really wanted to stay offshore longer and see the well completions being installed!

Every minute I’m on the rig floor or on the main deck helping the well services team I’m learning something new and relating what I’ve learnt at university or in the Maersk Oil office, to what’s happening offshore. It’s an incredible learning experience!

Day 3:

time to get our hands dirty!

During our third and final day we got some more hands-on experience by working with the well services team to test some downhole completion equipment. We started with a risk assessment and a toolbox talk which gave us some great insights about the importance of safety – and the intense focus on safety that’s always applied.

Then we checked the control line spoolers. Control lines are thin steel lines which are connected to downhole completion equipment, such as subsurface safety valves or downhole control valves. We took plastic hoses, connected them to a compressed air source and then we made connections between the hoses to each spooler. We checked four control line spoolers to ensure that they were working properly (under supervision), which was a great and very practical learning experience.

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