James Tozer is currently working as a mechanical production support engineer on BP’s Clair Platform, as part of the company’s graduate scheme entitled BP’s Challenge Program.
“One third of my time is spent offshore, where I work twelve hour shifts and am kept busy with front line operations, repairs, root cause failure analysis (RCFA) and incident investigations. I am also responsible for daily reporting to the management and partners on losses, production, risks, and maintenance, and help the platform management team with their safety audits,” James highlights.
“Then a third of my time is spent in the Aberdeen office where I take the time to look more deeply into any technical problems that may have arisen whilst I was offshore, and to plan modifications in detail. This generally means sourcing materials, conducting risk assessments, and seeking technical advice when necessary,” he explains. “The rest of my time is spent on leave, which is great!”
Of course it was quite daunting leaving everything and everyone he knew to move across the UK and start his new position.
“When I first decided to move north from London, I was a bit apprehensive about leaving my university friends and family behind. I wasn’t really sure what to expect from Aberdeen, but living here has turned out to be a fantastic experience.
“When you arrive you’re placed with a bunch of like-minded people and you end up forming a very active social group. There is a lot to do. Since arriving we’ve been skiing, biking, white-water rafting, go-karting, etc. Everyone lives close by and you’re never stuck for something to do,” he says.
James knew that joining a graduate scheme such as BP’s Challenge Program would help him gain valuable experience in the sector and would be great from a professional development perspective. What he hadn’t appreciated was how structured it would be.
“At BP you are given guidance on the specific competencies you need to develop in order to progress in your career, and you are given a huge amount of support to help you reach your goals. For example, I have been assigned a coach, whom I meet with once a week, to help me achieve Chartered status,” he explains.
“You get a lot more responsibility on a graduate program than you might expect and there are more opportunities to seek out valuable tasks, suggest them to management and lead on them.
“It also challenges you more as an individual as your roles are varied and the nature of your work changes over the course of the program,” he continues. “Each position is designed to give you different experience to your first. For instance, in my first role I was working in a technical central engineering functional team, which was great for learning about the detail behind what we do.
“In my current role I am now getting operational field experience and am working with the equipment, and the people who work with the equipment on a day to day basis. All graduates at BP are guaranteed a minimum of 100 field days experience in their first three years, but most get more. Getting such broad based exposure means that after you complete the graduate program you can make an informed decision about the direction you would like your career to take.”
James is very passionate about his job and although it can be tough he does enjoy the day-to-day challenges his job presents and gets real satisfaction when he gets to the bottom of a technical problem. Specifically, he enjoys seeing a physical change on the platform, such as getting an important piece of equipment installed and up and running.
The most interesting project James has worked on so far was carrying out a repair on one of BP’s sea water lift pumps. This involved working with technicians to strip down the pump, understand the problem, co-ordinate the repair with the onshore team and manage suppliers.
“In the end I got the parts we needed flown out to the platform over the weekend, thus minimising the impact on overall project productivity,” he says.
“After the repair was carried out, I had to conduct an RCFA to understand the underlying cause of the failure to prevent a repeat. This involved planning, risk assessing and implementing a physical modification to the pump and how it was operated.”
James’ first two roles at BP have been operational, so his next step will be to gain project experience.
“Working in an international setting is something I’ve always wanted to do and BP is a global company with operations all over the world. Some graduates do get posted abroad whilst on the Challenge programme, and I’m hoping I might get to be one of them,” he concludes.