By MELISSA FAIRI
LIVING and working in Melbourne Australia, as a production engineer with the reservoir and subsurface engineering team, and supporting the Hides Gas Conditioning Plant, Gerard Schulze is
among the 2400 PNG LNG Production workforce who are running the operation of the first LNG project in Papua New Guinea.
Gerard is one of the many success stories of ExxonMobil PNG’s commitment to workforce development, a key pillar of the PNG LNG National Content strategy.
From Kavieng in the New Ireland, Gerard had big dreams, to live and work overseas. But while growing up in the oil palm province of West New Britain, he saw this as a far-fetched dream that seemed way out of his reach.
This idea changed though, when Gerard found himself among the first batch of six Papua New Guineans recruited into the first engineering graduate recruitment
programme in 2011.
The purpose of the recruitment process was to prepare PNG engineers for integration into the start-up phase and ongoing operation of the production facilities in PNG.
As the project was still in construction phase, Gerard’s group was sent to Melbourne for an 18-month onthe- job training assignment to gain experience working in actual production facilities.
His role was a graduate facilities surveillance engineer with Exxon- Mobil’s Australian affiliate, allowing him to gain hands-on experience from mentors and industry experts with more than 40 years’ experience in oil and gas production.
In 2012, Gerard returned to PNG at the peak of PNG LNG’s construction to the position of facilities surveillance engineer.
“One thing that I really appreciate about the company is the value that it places on investing in the training and development of its employees,” said Gerard.
As the construction phase came to a close, Gerard moved into the position of production planning coordinator and gas management system engineer.
He described his achievements in this role as some of his proudest career moments, particularly the delivery of the Gas Management System.
“The chance to work on the startup of a project the size and scale of PNG LNG is something that few engineers get to experience – particularly at the very start of their
career. Without the graduate programme, I may not have had the opportunity to be involved in such a unique experience.
“This was a significant milestone not only for the PNG LNG project, but also for me personally as it was through this experience that I learnt the most,” he added.
The lessons he gleaned from industry experts, practical experience, global operations and a global network of colleagues set the foundation to build a truly exciting career with EMPNG.
Gerard thanks his supervisor and ExxonMobil for recognizing his hard work and commends EMPNG for sticking by its commitment to invest in and develop Papua New Guineans to reach their full potential.
Today, the PNG LNG Project has and is continuing to build the intellectual and skills capacity of Papua New Guineans as it is vital to the success of the project.
Eighty two per cent of those working for PNG LNG are Papua New Guineans. One of the achievements of the project has also been the teaching and preparation of 200 operations and maintenance trainees who will operate the LNG facilities for the next 30 years.
It is through the efforts of the workforce that PNG LNG has created an enviable reputation as being a dependable supplier of LNG to the world. ExxonMobil knows that the investment it makes in its workforce today is what will sustain and grow its business in the future.
- Melissa Fairi is Media & Communications Lead/Contractor for Public and Government Affairs, ExxonMobil PNG Limited