We have many high achievers at Oil Search who continue to strive for success through a variety of pathways.
- Gabriel is responsible for the upkeep of equipment at the Oil Search Agogo Processing Facility in his role as oil field Mechanic. The journey he took to reach that level is one of humility, courage and determination.
- Wendy (pictured - middle) joined Oil Search through the Apprenticeship Programme, formerly the Process Technician Programme, qualifying as one of the first ever female novices in this technical trade.
- Eddie leads a high-performing team where anything less than a 100% focus on safety is a matter of life and death for our colleagues. Eddie was PNG’s first aeronautical engineer and has been working with Oil Search since 2012.
- Our diverse group of engineers includes the talented, young Serah, a female national at the Kutubu Central Processing Facility (CPF) who has just completed her Masters of Science specialising in Petroleum Engineering.
- Chelsea (pictured - right) is part of Oil Search's senior management team, as Group Treasurer, having worked with the Company since 2012.
Gabriel Halia from Pawale village in Samberigi, Southern Highlands is responsible for the upkeep of equipment at the Oil Search Agogo Processing Facility in his role as oil field Mechanic.
The journey he took to reach that level is one of humility, courage and determination. Gabriel began as a Roustabout with Chevron Niugini in 2001 after completing grade 10.
"I started off cutting grass and removing rubbish within the Gobe Processing Facility. One of my other tasks involved removing sand from the Production Separators using a shovel," he recalls.
He performed all his tasks quite diligently and in 2005 he was moved to the Maintenance department to become a general Trade Assistant.
"There, I was responsible for cleaning tools, keeping equipment in order and topping up fuel on generators."
In 2006, he decided to take advantage of the learning opportunities provided by Oil Search after the Company took over operatorship from Chevron in 2003.
"I upgraded my grade 10 marks in 2006 and was able to go on to complete my grades 11 and 12 through the Oil Search sponsored Department of Open and Distance Learning (DODL) program, affiliated with the PNG University of Technology.
"In 2008, I was moved to the Mechanical Workshop in Kutubu where I became a Trade Assistant Mechanic and it was there that my level of interest grew in that particular trade," added Gabriel.
His job involved reading manuals, identifying correct tools and their uses, reading scales on precision measuring tools, undergoing basic in-house training, attending mandatory courses and working closely with the tradesmen on various tasks.
A year later, Gabriel was presented his grade 12 certificate by the Oil Search Training department and that opened up a new window of opportunity for him.
"All my hard work and dedication from when I first started as a roustabout and a trade assistant finally paid off when my immediate supervisors from the Machine Shop or Maintenance department made a recommendation for me to join the Apprenticeship Programme in 2012.
"Of course I had my doubts because I never attended a Technical College. All I had was my 11 years of experience doing general house-keeping in the various processing facilities. I had so many questions. The main one being; will I ever complete this Programme?"
The few weeks and months that followed were indeed challenging for Gabriel but he began to understand the material thanks to the Oil Search Training team and his ever helpful colleagues.
"It was never easy. My main challenge was interpreting engineering drawings which my colleagues really helped me with and along with the theory and practical sessions conducted by the Training department.
Following a series of block courses at the Tabubil Star Mountains Training Institute and the Port Moresby Technical College (POMTECH) from 2013 to 2016, Gabriel made it to the final year of the programme.
"Finally in June 2016, I went for my third extension block course at POMTECH. This was the decider course whether to re-sit the following year or to pass and receive your National Trades Certificate. It was all up to me now. I gave my very best and I passed. The journey I took had come to end and I was now a tradesman!
"I was offered the position of Oil Field Mechanic based at the Agogo Processing Facility (APF) that same year. I never thought I would see this day but through Oil Search's faith and confidence in me, I am now a certified Mechanic," said Gabriel.
Some examples of the work he performs include repairing of Crude Transfer Pumps, Gas Cooler Fans, Diesel Engine Driven Pumps, Valves and Compressors.
"I am really proud of my achievements especially since I come from the local area. I would like to thank Oil Search for providing me with this opportunity."
Gabriel's advice to those with big dreams: "Have pride in the work you do, regardless of its size. There is always a light at the end of every tunnel so never give up."
What was one early highlight of your career?
Wendy: A highlight was when Manu Kenja and I became the first two females to work at the Kutubu Refinery. There we helped process crude oil from an on-site storage tank into jet fuel, kerosene and diesel.
Another successful achievement was when I formed part of the team that successfully commissioned the new units/upgrades as a trainee for the associated gas project and sent the first gas from CPF to the PNG LNG pipeline.
There are now more female apprentices at Oil Search. How do you feel about that?
Wendy: I am so proud to see the numbers increase each year!
Describe your journey so far and how would you describe Oil Search as an employer?
Wendy: The journey has certainly not been easy but each challenge has taken me one step further. Through it all, I am enormously grateful for my very supportive team. Oil Search has empowered me to be more than what I saw myself. This organisation holds a special place in my heart as it has given me many opportunities to challenge myself and get to where I am today. I say that, without a doubt, the level of support I get here is simply unparalleled.
What’s a typical day for you?
Wendy: I start at 4:00am or pm, depending on whether I’m on a day or night shift, and end at 6:00am or pm. I have breakfast at 4:30 and I am on the bus by 5:00. My shift starts at 5:30am/pm and then I’m in the Control Room by 6:00 monitoring and controlling the processing of oil and gas. Apart from that, there is the organising of the day-to-day tasks for plant or field operators and roustabouts. I also maintain close communications with our support teams to ensure every process in the facility is under control and is functioning as required and liaise with ExxonMobil Hides for the PNG LNG Project.
What is the best part of your job and what do you enjoy the most?
Wendy: The best part about my job is definitely the challenges I wake up to each day and having to overcome them with the full support of my team. Plant safety and stability depends on equipment and instrumentation. If any variances occur, we must quickly find the reason. That's when I enjoy my job the most because that's when great team work and support is displayed and I learn a bit more or something entirely new!
What inspires you to give your best each day?
Wendy: My inspirations are my parents and my two lovely children who always tell me that I can do it, no matter how far I am away from them
We also understand you are part of the Oil Search Accelerated Development Programme (ADP). How has that programme benefited you?
Wendy: I can say that the programme has had a great influence on my life, both personally and professionally in terms of leadership development. The programme will definitely help me become an influential leader.
I never thought I would stand up in front of Peter Botten and other EGMs to do a presentation but I did through the ADP. I was one of three out of the twelve in my group that was selected to make a fifteen-minute presentation on the benefits of the programme and my return on investment. This was something I never saw myself doing and I am still so grateful for that opportunity. I felt I represented PNG, my department, PNG women and the females in my team when I presented. I was awarded a Certificate of Awesomeness by Peter Botten for my development within the one year programme.
Any future plans for the next five years and do you see yourself still employed by Oil Search?
Wendy: Who would dream of leaving a great company like Oil Search? My plan for the next five years, if I am still here, is to continue to be an inspiring role-model for all females venturing into male-dominated fields.
Any other comments you would like to make, Wendy?
Wendy: Being a woman or a mother does not put a limit to your capacity; it only strengthens you in the journey you wish to pursue. Thank you to the men I work with, who recognise that and give me their full support.
Recently, Moro Airport was awarded an Aerodrome Operating Certificate. Can you tell us about its significance?
Eddie: We are very proud that the Papua New Guinea Civil Aviation Safety Authority has issued Moro Aerodrome its highest certification, an Aerodrome Operating Certificate (AOC). The AOC allows Moro Airport to run commercially for five years – previously this has only been granted for a three-year time span. We were the first airport in all of PNG to be granted an AOC [Editor’s note: Jacksons Airport has now also been granted a five-year AOC]. This is recognition of our facility and Oil Search’s high standards, commitment to safety and genuine concern for ensuring we follow best practice – often even before regulations require it. I am fortunate to work for an organisation that proactively pursues and invests in excellence.
Eddie, you demonstrate incredible calm in what some may consider a highly stressful job. Has there been a defining moment that made you who you are today?
Eddie: In 1994, I lived in Rabaul, in the rumbling shadow of two volcanoes which subsequently destroyed Rabaul and became one of the country’s worst disasters. When those volcanoes blew, my home was destroyed, and all my possessions. I realised then what humans really require for survival: water and food. Everything else is a blessing and an opportunity – it’s up to each of us to make the most of it.
What is your approach to leadership?
Eddie: I won’t be here forever! Oil Search invests in the education and training of Papua New Guinea’s next generation of leaders – that is one of the reasons I like this Company. I encourage my team to contribute ideas for improvement and present solutions to the challenges that are presented to us every day. My team is made up entirely of Papua New Guineans and each play a critical role to ensuring that our team runs efficiently, effectively and, most importantly, safely. These are our future leaders, so I make a point of imparting the wisdom that my experience has provided me.
Do you have a favourite saying?
Eddie: Do not mistake friendliness for weakness.
How has Oil Search’s focus on Performance and Improvement impacted you and your team?
Eddie: There have been many ways – but I’ll give you one example. I used to lead a team meeting that lasted about 90 minutes once a week. Now, we have a 15 minute meeting every morning where everyone on the team leads a part of the meeting. We focus on our safety performance, our KPIs, our daily tasks, what’s on for the month and what challenges lay ahead. This change has resulted in some staggering improvements. For example, each individual now not only has better clarity on his/her role, but on what others’ roles are and what others on the team expect of him/her. My team is now more willing to take responsibility and vocalise their thoughts. The result for Oil Search is an across-the-board improved understanding of how we can better use our resources and where we can save on costs – without cutting corners on safety.
Serah, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your role at Oil Search?
Serah: I am 26. My parents are from Wapenamanda District in the Enga Province.
I joined Oil Search in 2012 as a Graduate Petroleum Engineer in the Company’s Graduate Development Programme. Since then, I have also held the positons of Development Petroleum Engineer and Well Integrity Engineer before being appointed to my current role as Production Engineer, overseeing the CPF.
As Production Engineer, I play a part in optimising oil and gas delivery from the field wells which are tied into a network of pipelines that feed into the CPF. At the CPF, where the produced fluids are separated and the oil and gas is processed for export.
Since PNG LNG came onstream in 2014, our operating philosophy has changed. Production in the CPF now means that in addition to maximising our oil production, we prioritise safe management and export of Hides condensate and deliver export gas to PNG LNG. I provide engineering support for this and am responsible for the safe and reliable operation of our wells.
My typical day is spent collaborating with a highly talented, diverse group of people which is very enriching. I am passionate about learning and can honestly say there is not a day when I don’t learn something new here.
What has been your journey to achieving a Master of Science, specialising in Petroleum Engineering?
Serah: My first degree was in Mechanical Engineering from the PNG University of Technology. In 2012, when I commenced my Graduate Development Programme with Oil Search, I began my Postgraduate Diploma in Petroleum Engineering through the University of New South Wales Australia. Upon completion of my Postgraduate Diploma in 2015, I was offered a space in the University’s Masters Programme, which has taken me 18 months to complete.
Balancing studies with a full time job has certainly been challenging. When not on rotation, I have my coursework and assessments to complete. These last 18 months have been the toughest for me, as during this time I opened another chapter in my life: getting married and welcoming a son. The journey has taught me an important life lesson: to be successful at any goal, you must want it very much!
Who has inspired your achievements?
Serah: My parents have always been my role models and I am blessed to have them. My mum has taught me to be grounded, content with who I am and willing to work hard for what I want. Over and over again, my dad has pushed me to achieve beyond my expectations for myself. His constant challenging combined with my self-determination propelled me to achieve academic excellence throughout my schooling. I thank God for both their lives.
Did you ever dream of joining Oil Search prior to your acceptance into the Graduate Development Programme?
Serah: When I graduated from university, I didn’t know mechanical engineers could stream into petroleum so the idea of joining Oil Search was not in my mind until I was accepted for an interview.
I have an uncle who worked for Oil Search in the 90s. I remember as a child looking at Oil Search’s Annual Reports with its images of the flares at the CPF and imagining how amazing it must be to fly back and forth from home to work in such a place. Growing up, I always wanted to be an engineer, but never thought that 20 years down the line I’d be the Production Engineer of that very facility!
How does it feel to be one of the very few Papua New Guinean women to take up petroleum engineering?
Serah: I am humbled and honoured to serve my country and Oil Search in this capacity. I see the value of education in empowering our people, especially our women. I am saddened to still see more value being placed on the education of a male child than a female child. Thankfully, this is changing as more of our people become educated. I’d like to be a role model for our youth, challenging them to not only dream big, but to work hard to break down the barriers that get in the way of their success.
What are your thoughts on Oil Search and its commitment to citizen development and women’s empowerment?
Serah: Oil Search has certainly provided me the platform to not only develop my skill set but also my unique personality and leadership style. I am proud to work for an organisation that has the highest regard for the safety of its people.
It is exciting to see more and more women getting into leadership roles within the organisation. Diversity is always healthy in any business and I believe Oil Search has taken a crucial step in the right direction with its focus on citizen development and women’s empowerment.
I’m thankful to Oil Search for providing me this invaluable opportunity and helping me to obtain my Masters. As a young national female engineer, I feel Oil Search has “walked the talk” in its efforts towards developing citizen employees and empowering women.
What are your future plans?
Serah: Over the next three to five years, I’d like to develop a broader understanding of Oil Search’s business. Production is the heart of the Company and with a production background there are no limits to where I could go within the organisation. In the next 10 years, I see myself in management, if not at Oil Search then certainly in an organisation with similar values.
Any other comments you would like to make, Serah?
Serah: I’d like to thank those friends, peers, supervisors and mentors who have always shown unwavering belief and confidence in me. These people have helped me through some tough times. Those who have shared positive words of encouragement have made such a difference to me.
How long have you been with the Company and why did you join Oil Search?
Chelsea: I joined Oil Search nearly six years ago, mainly because I believed it was a Company with a strong future that could present me with amazing opportunities. This has turned out to be right!
Tell us about the book drive you spearheaded last year?
Chelsea: After visiting the village of Sisibia as part of a joint venture field trip, I saw how few books their school library had and decided to ask all my family and local community to donate their pre-loved books. I sent 400 books to Sisibia earlier in the year and another 200 books are currently enroute to Homa Paua. I’d like to collect enough to send through to Baguale and Pimago also, as I visited all four of these villages last year and they are all within our licence footprint.
What is the Treasury function’s role?
Chelsea: The Treasury discipline is responsible for the identification, measurement and management of financial risks across the Business Units, specifically focusing on funding and liquidity (cash plus available debt), counterparty credit risk, commodity price, interest rate and foreign exchange risks. This covers things like depositing our money wisely to protect our cash balance, minimising our exposure to foreign currencies and interest rates and making sure we deal with companies that won't default on their payments to us. My team ensures that Stephen Gardiner, our Chief Financial Officer, is supported in this area as he manages and drives the bigger picture of all Oil Search’s finances.
What challenges lie ahead for you and your team?
Chelsea: Oil Search is in a fortunate position – we have strong growth opportunities ahead. A key focus is to make sure we have sufficient liquidity to fund these growth opportunities.
Many of our employees may feel pretty far removed from your area of the business and its challenges. How might other roles in the Company impact what you do?
Chelsea: In a challenging price environment for oil and gas, it is important that we continue to focus on managing costs to generate more cash and to prioritise and plan our work so that we can deliver the best value from the money we have available to invest . Everyone can help to make our business as efficient as possible. Every dollar/kina does count.