Engineering News

Examining the Rewards and Challenges of Modern Oil and Gas Jobs
July 27, 2016

As technology continues to evolve in the oil and gas sector, so do the types of roles available in the industry. GE Oil & Gas workers exploring modern employment opportunities in the energy sector, met with Rigzone to discuss their day-to-day tasks, as well as some of the biggest rewards and challenges these newer industry positions offer.

Alessandra Pollifrone, Diagnostic Engineer, Turbomachinery Solutions, GE Oil & Gas

Rigzone: What activities do you perform on a day-to-day basis?

Pollifrone: I am a diagnostic engineer in the Turbomachinery Solutions Remote Monitoring & Diagnostics (RM&D) Houston center, which collects and analyzes asset data for our global fleet of rotating equipment utilized for oil and gas applications such as LNG, offshore and pipeline. My daily activities consist of analyzing the behavior of a wide range of rotating equipment and supporting our customers and engineering teams in identifying and troubleshooting equipment anomalies.

Rigzone: What’s the best part of your job?

Pollifrone: The best part of my job is definitely the exposure to a wide variety of events and technologies and the ability to learn while problem solving. It is a great satisfaction to see that our efforts become valuable solutions to our customers. I find it very exciting to work in such a diversified team, both geographically and functionally. There is great potential to gain experience from others in this role.

Rigzone: What are some of the biggest challenges?

Pollifrone: The nature of my job is by definition quite unpredictable as you never know what may come next - a unit may trip or urgent support may be needed by a customer to troubleshoot a technical issue which could potentially cause downtime. This does not allow planning and organizing activities for the long-term and requires the team to work fast and effectively.

As we provide 24/7 remote monitoring and diagnostics [RM&D] service, belonging to a global team and working in rotation with the other RM&D centers can be quite challenging occasionally, as it requires maximizing the available communication and collaboration channels to make sure that information is delivered effectively and projects are executed on time.

Rigzone: How did you land this role?

Pollifrone: I joined GE 3 years ago in this same role. I started my career working for a GE competitor as a mechanical engineer dedicated to support the re-engineering of gas turbine hot-gas-path components. While in this role, I gained experience in design, manufacturing, materials and quality. After 3 years, I moved to the thermal performance and remote monitoring and diagnostics department where I remained for another 3 years before finally joining GE Oil & Gas.

Rigzone: What advice would you give for others that want to follow in your footsteps?

Pollifrone: Be a team player and proactively share your knowledge and experience. I find that the best teams are those where individuals have a natural tendency to cooperate rather than compete. As the business is fast changing, it is important to be patient, have a positive mindset and maintain a healthy balance between long-standing practices and innovation.

Alessio Cigolini, Site Manager, Turbomachinery Solutions, GE Oil & Gas

Rigzone: What activities do you perform on a day-to-day basis?

Cigolini: I’m a site manager for complex upgrades projects. Daily, I lead and coordinate a project team for the execution of construction activities in the brownfield business in terms of quality, safety, time and costs.

Rigzone: What’s the best part of your job?

Cigolini: In brownfield, with challenging scopes of works and a tight timeframe for execution, there are many contingencies. For me it’s exciting to think out of the box to overcome difficulties and achieve solutions that don’t affect the general project progress.

Rigzone: What are some of the biggest challenges?

Cigolini: Working 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, in very remote locations far away from my family is not an easy job. Sometimes it is very hard to make your loved ones feel like you never left home while you are struggling with daily difficulties at work.

Rigzone: How did you land this role?

Cigolini: I joined GE 15 years ago as a field service engineer. After 8 years as control engineer I moved to the resource manager position, responsible for a team of 50+ field services engineers for 3 years, then I took on a project manager role which brings together the technical background and the managerial skills I picked up in my previous role. Finally I decided to challenge myself again and decided to step back into site activities as a site manager where I hope to take advantage of my past experience.

Rigzone: What advice would you give for others that want to follow in your footsteps?

Cigolini: Be humble and open to learn from mistakes, there’s always somebody you can learn from. Be positive and look for the extra mile. This will make your days really interesting.

Egidio (Ed) Marotta, System Analytics, Modelling & Analysis manager, GE Oil & Gas

Rigzone: What activities do you perform on a day-to-day basis?

Marotta: As the manager of the Systems Analytics, Modeling & Analysis group I routinely lead, coordinate, and ensure the successful execution of a multitude of projects that require modeling and simulation. These comprise the analysis of components, subsystems, or entire systems throughout the entire spectrum of fidelity (e.g. higher-order numerical simulations (4D/3D) to lower-order empirical correlations (1D/0D)).

In addition, with the advent of advanced analytics the team analyzes vast amounts of streaming data from sensors to detect trends that can potentially lead to customer productivity gains. Also, the use of advanced analytics can enable the prognostication of unplanned downtime that would otherwise lead to lost production (e.g., predictive maintenance).

Rigzone: What’s the best part of your job?

Marotta: I get to interact with a highly skilled and educated team with deep domain knowledge of the oil and gas industry. The excitement of providing insightful information to our customers from terabytes of data with the use of software tools such as Python, C and C++, Fortran, and Java (these are just a few) is very rewarding yet very challenging. This can only be accomplished if we work as a team that is respectful and constructively confrontational. All egos are set aside.

Rigzone: What are some of the biggest challenges?

Marotta: Ensuring that the team clearly understands our customer needs and pain points, but also, that we manage our customer’s expectations. This is especially relevant when conducting very complex numerical simulations since the accuracy of these predictions are only as good as our ability to correctly pre-process (mesh), choose the correct physics, and converge to a solution. Correct and accurate inputs from our customer are paramount to a successful analysis. Also, verification and validation of predicted results is what keeps me up at night since our customer is always asking for experimental proof/comparison.

Rigzone: How did you land this role?

Marrota: I joined GE Oil & Gas 3 years ago from another company in the industry to lead a multiphysics simulation group, but have since taken on my current role as the manager of the Systems Analytics, Modeling & Analysis group within GE Oil & Gas headquarters. Prior to joining the oil and gas industry, I was teaching at Clemson University and then Texas A&M University, all within the mechanical engineering department. For the past 15 years I have been modeling/simulating components and systems whether in the oil and gas industry, aerospace (e.g. avionics) or high-end computer systems (thermal packaging of electronics). Playing in the virtual world has always been second nature to me.

Rigzone: What advice would you give for others that want to follow in your footsteps?

Marrota: Obviously, one needs to perform well academically in college. Pursue an advanced degree in something that you’re enthusiastic about (in my case science and engineering), and work very hard at it. Keep learning and get out of your comfort zone - this forces you to learn - and then, mentor others who may want to follow in your footsteps. In my case, I keep teaching at local universities such as the University of Houston (Subsea Engineering Program) and hopefully in the fall at Rice University. This is how I can inspire young engineers and scientists to pursue the oil and gas industry, and keep learning from my students

Source: Rigzone

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