A new field engineer based in the North Sea region describes his first few months at Schlumberger.
Day 1: The beginning
Day 1 of your Schlumberger career is quite possibly the most unique and exciting start to any job you could imagine. And so it began for me, on a Sunday in early April, as I flew from London to Paris to begin the Schlumberger Field Engineer induction course. Don’t get me wrong. Upon arrival I was feeling slightly nervous, not really knowing quite what to expect, but excited nonetheless. I mean, come on, who wouldn’t be excited about 7 days in Paris, with the prospect of meeting new friends from across the globe? But there were still many burning questions that needed answers, and in all honesty Schlumberger was still a bit of a mystery to me. However, it quickly became clear these questions would soon to be answered when I was handed an envelope at the hotel reception, and so began my experience.
Week 1: Introductory training course
When you start your career as a Field Engineer at Schlumberger, you attend a kind of company orientation. You get to know the company and what Schlumberger is all about. But it’s more than this. It’s an opportunity to meet people from around the world,
from different cultures, backgrounds, and experiences. You’ll learn what you can expect and what is expected from you during your Schlumberger career. We were wined and dined in some beautiful bistros, taken on group activities such as go-karting and bowling, so you really do have the opportunity to take as much away from the experience as you want to.
As you’d expect, there’s work to be done both independently and within groups to keep you on your toes. Health and safety make up a large chunk of the week. Some lessons are common sense and you’ll have heard before, but it truly is an important part of the course because at the end of the day we’re working in some of the most challenging environments on the planet.
Week 2: Arriving at your location
I had the luxury of returning to my base in Aberdeen with three other guys from my introductory training course, three guys who over that short period of time had become great friends. We collected our house keys from the office and headed to our assigned staff house, where we were to stay during our entire preschool period. There can be up to 14 people staying at the staff house at any time. Everyone was really friendly and sociable and made us feel at ease in this new, unknown city, which really helped us to settle in. The house is in an amazing location, just 5 minutes from the center of town and the train station and only 50 m from the nearest take-away—brilliant! The first week is spent getting to know people, meeting management and colleagues, familiarizing yourself with the location and the office, and receiving basic inductions.
Month 1: At the location
Getting to know Aberdeen is made all the more easier by the fact that the staff house is a bit of a hub for all trainees and engineers, whether they still live there or not. It provides the perfect environment for making new friends, socializing, and getting help with any issues you may have. There’s always someone to talk to.
This period between your introductory training course and school is known as the preschool period. I really enjoyed this time, meeting new people, and learning about the Field Engineer role and responsibilities. It’s the perfect way of easing yourself into working life.
Working in the North Sea requires you to complete lots of training courses, such as the helicopter survival training that’s a particular favorite for most offshore workers. This is the one where you get dunked in and out of a giant swimming pool over the course of a few days.
One of the great things about this job is that people have such different academic backgrounds, whether it’s engineering, science, math, or geology. There’s no need to have any prior knowledge of the services that Schlumberger specializes in because the staff provide you with all the necessary training and learning material you’ll need. Throughout the first month you’re provided with material for self-learning and have the opportunity to spend time in the workshop learning about the wide variety of tools and equipment you’ll be responsible for on the rigs.
Month 2: Going offshore and preparing for school
Before going to school it is mandatory for all Field Engineers to spend some time offshore on a rig, experiencing the working environment and the drilling operations that you’ll be responsible for upon returning from school. This is possibly one of the greatest experiences you’ll have in your preschool period. I was able to get out on a rig for two weeks, but some of my colleagues were lucky enough to make two, even three, trips offshore. Really, the more offshore visits the better. You learn so much out there. All the learning material that may have pickled your brain before suddenly becomes easy to understand. You get to witness all the challenges that you’ll face and your fellow field engineers are your source for answers to your mountains of questions. The rig lifestyle is totally different to onshore and is easy to get used to. You can’t beat getting a chopper to and from work, free gyms, pool, darts, endless amounts of good food cooked for you, ice cream (as much as you like) and Sky TV.
When you’re not offshore you’re preparing for school, which means working hard to learn the material for the school entrance exam and acquiring the basic knowledge that will help you through the course. Schlumberger has schools all over the world. If you’re like me and joining the drilling area of the business, you could end up going to school in Houston (Texas), Siberia, or Abu Dhabi. I’m going to the Middle East Learning Center in Abu Dhabi for my 9-week training course and I can’t wait. I’m expecting to work hard and really get my teeth into the course, and at the same time I’m looking forward to living in a new country with a different culture (and better weather!) and meeting a whole new group of people.
What more can I say about my first few weeks and months working for Schlumberger? It’s been a fantastic experience: Learning about the company and the wide variety of services Schlumberger offers. Meeting new friends. Living in a new city. Acquiring lots of knowledge in a short period of time. Hard but rewarding work.