Meet Sean, an Operator on Shell’s Gannet Alpha installation

Blog

8th March 2023

Sean began as an instrumentation apprentice on the OGTAP scheme back in 2015. Today, he’s still working for his sponsor company, Shell, as an Operator on the Gannet Alpha Installation.

Apply to join the 2023 OGTAP intake: https://www.ogtap.co.uk/apply

Tell us about your career post-OGTAP.

After spending two years at Edinburgh College getting to grips with my OGTAP specialism, instrumentation, I began my industry placement with Shell. I was stationed on the Gannet Alpha installation which is approximately 180km east of Aberdeen – and it’s where I still am today.

When I completed my apprenticeship, there was an opportunity to join the team on a full-time basis as an operator. This was a different role from what I’d trained in, but I jumped at the opportunity to expand my skillset.

Today, I look after the hydrocarbon facilities on the Gannet Alpha, transitioning between my operator and instrumentation roles as required. I like being able to lend a hand where I can, using my transferable skills to provide extra support for my team.

I’m still at the beginning of my career, but I have big ambitions for the future – and there’s plenty of ways which I can progress on Gannet Alpha. Within the operations team, I could become a Control Room Operator (CRO) and, from there, progress into an Offshore Supervision role and even into management.

Many of my team mates offshore are ex-OGTAP apprentices – so it’s inspiring for me to see where I could end up in a few years’ time.

Why did you join the energy industry?

I was inspired to pursue a career in energy by my dad, who already works within the industry. After completing a measurement and control course with NESCOL, I decided to apply for the OGTAP scheme.

I’ve always wanted to work offshore, and OGTAP provided me with the right foundation, and qualifications to get there. It provided a ‘foot in the door’ and set me up with a career for life.

How did the OGTAP scheme prepare you for your career today?

The mix of practical experience and classroom learning set me up well for my career today. Edinburgh College, where I was based, has great facilities available – including specialist instrumentation and control engineering workshops.

Shell’s Fife natural gas liquids plant at Mossmorran donated equipment to the worksite which no longer met their needs. This allowed us to gain hands-on experience with real-life industry equipment. In fact, it was practically the same equipment I use today (just a little older).

Tell us about the highlights of your career so far.

A career highlight for me is the people that I’ve met throughout my journey. At 17 I moved to Edinburgh to begin the OGTAP course, and I built incredibly close friendships with my course mates. This has continued throughout my time offshore.

My 21st birthday landed during one of my trips offshore. My crew organised a surprise party, with a Peppa Pig cake to top it off! This highlights the close friendships you make when working offshore.

Why would you encourage young people to enter the energy industry?

The global shift of energy systems is huge right now. I can imagine it’s daunting for young people considering entering the industry – but it really is a career for life and a great opportunity for anybody.

Plus, there’s always opportunities to transition throughout your career. From my experience, many operators are looking to develop their own workforce to fill new roles, including ones that don’t even exist yet, to meet the needs of the energy transition.

What would you go back and tell your younger self – either applying for the OGTAP scheme or beginning your apprenticeship?

For me, I began my career desperate to be involved in everything and just get stuck into it all. If I could go back, I’d tell myself to take things slowly.

Sure – everyone makes mistakes and it’s all a part of learning, but I still strive to get everything right. That comes with taking your time!

OGTAP 2023 recruitment is open. Find out more and apply: https://www.ogtap.co.uk/apply

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