L-R Thando Sibanda, Peter Oladimeji and Adeleye Adewole receiving their training.

The BP Ultimate Field Trip experience

Rigid Ideas, the 2011 winners of the BP Ultimate Field Trip share their experiences from their seven week internship, which included working offshore, presenting to high level BP management, partying at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and surviving outdoor pursuits in the chilly Scottish wilds!

Back in April three students from Loughborough University won the 2011 BP Ultimate Field Trip competition, with their presentation on utilising the temperature gradient between seawater and geothermal fluids in depleting oil wells to generate electricity. Fast forward to September and Thando Sibanda, Adeleye Adewole and Peter Oladimeji have just completed their prize – a spectacular seven week internship with BP. Here the three of them share their experiences, from the best bits through to what skills they’ve gained.

Training

“Our first week involved offshore training, where we got to learn all the emergency procedures, such as dealing with hypothermia - we even had to reconstruct a helicopter crash, which was an amazing experience. Week two continued the training theme, as we undertook a two day Minimum Industry Safety Training (MIST) course, which covered everything from working at height through to dealing with fires and COSHH safety training.

The second half of the week saw us begin our project, which was on our competition topic of using depleted offshore oil wells in the North Sea to commercially produce hydrogen.

Amazing networking opportunities

The evening before we jumped on the helicopter to the Clair Platform, we got to have dinner with BPs Regional Leadership Team, which included Trevor Garlick, regional president North Sea. We talked to them about how they got to where they are today and they even gave us useful pointers for our project!

It was a great networking opportunity to be honest, for example Peter spent some time talking to Dave Lynch, vp resource North Sea, about his dissertation. Through this conversation Peter got the details of another BP engineer who is the top guy in this area and will hopefully spending some time with him at the end of September.

Life offshore

Working offshore for eight days was a great experience and we loved every second of it. The most surprising thing was how amazing the food was – it was totally five star cuisine! We even got to tour the kitchen to see how they cooked the food. It's a great place to work too – shifts are from 6am to 6pm and the workers do two weeks on then two weeks off. Our days were filled with our project work and there’s lots to do in the evenings too. For example we took part in a quiz night as well as practicing our guitar and darts skills.We got the majority of our project work completed here and towards the end we presented our work so far to the offshore team. They were great because they listened to and discussed all our recommendations, and took action on everything necessary. They also helped us work out what areas we needed to work on and what information we still needed.

At university we really focus on the theoretical rather than gain technical experience, so our time here was hugely useful. It allowed us to learn what to do when faced with a problem how to approach things in the right manner and we all feel working offshore has increased our technical abilities a lot.

Work hard, party hard

Many of the rest of our working days were spent in BPs Aberdeen office finalising our project, but we also got to do a variety of very cool social things too. This included attending a party to celebrate the 800th anniversary of Fyvie Castle where we saw Beverly Knight play live, as well as heading out to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

When we were on our way to Edinburgh we were able to stop off and visit the Forties Pipeline System in Grangemouth. This is a crude processing terminal handling crude from 71 offshore fields which covers about 380km of pipeline, with throughput of about 600,000bbl/day. We had a tour of the plant and got to see some of the technology we’ve discussed at university, such as the amine scrubber (absorber). It was great to see them in action and experience how they work.

Moving forward to week six and we got to do two days of outdoor pursuits including canoeing and abseiling. Jumping into the cold Scottish water was something else, but was definitely worth it, we really enjoyed it!

Then the end was upon us, and we spent our last days completing our final report and presenting our findings to the management team, which we think went really well.

What we’ve gained

The whole experience definitely passed our expectations and we loved the culture at BP. We found that everyone was very friendly and willing to help at any time. That was one of the highlights of the placement, you might go to someone looking for a yes or no answer, and they’d happily give up 20-30 minutes of their time trying to explain things to you. They helped us learn a lot.

We’ve gained many technical skills – and even survival ones too - but also useful soft skills that will help our careers. For example we were given some amazing presentation training, where we learnt many different ways to present and were shown our strengths and weaknesses.

This experience has really given our careers a strong foundation and we feel we can go back to uni as better students, because we've matured through taking part in this competition. It’s impacted our lives in a big way. We feel we’ve learnt so much – right from when entered the competition. We’d recommend that anyone take part because you’ll learn a lot whether or not you win!

For more information on the competition head to the BP Ultimate Field Trip Facebook page.

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