The BP Ultimate Field Trip winning teams at Pulpit Rock, Norway.

Students return from international internship prize

Team Hydra – the UK winners of the 2013 BP Ultimate Field Trip - joined their winning colleagues from the US and Trinidad & Tobago to take part in a two week internship visiting BP operations in Norway, the Shetland Islands and London.

Back in March, three students from Strathclyde University won the UK’s 2013 BP Ultimate Field Trip competition, which asked students how to develop a mode of transport that reduces the cost of passenger travel in a selected country by 2030. This summer they joined with the winning teams from the US and Trinidad & Tobago competitions to take part in a once in a lifetime internship with BP.

The internship began in London with an ethics world asset management course.

“You’re put in the position of being a new board member on a struggling oil company, and you have to take some measures to turn the company around and become a competitive force in the world again. There were people representing energy ministers from various imaginary countries and you’d lobby them, bid for licences, drill and obtain oil and go on to produce it. It was a very good icebreaker for our team,” says Ravier Weekes from the University of the West Indies’ Team Innovo.

“We got a much greater understanding of how a company like BP bids for licences, and then drills its exploration wells and then produces oil from these wells and tries and make money from it, it was a great insight to how a company works,” adds Team Hydra’s Hugh McQueen, from the University of Strathclyde.

At BP’s headquarters the students got to meet high-level management over an informal lunch, where they presented and discussed their competition-winning ideas, and then headed off to Norway.

Visiting a BP on-shore control room in Stavanger, Norway

Here they visited BP’s on-shore control room at Stavanger, Norway, where they met geologists and operational engineers, and one lucky student even had the opportunity to close off a well!

“[While in Norway] we visited the Stavanger Oil Museum where we were able to gain an idea of the industry’s history and what it may be like in the future,” says Nick Connolly, a student from Team HAPS at the University of Illinois. “Then on our activity day we walked up to the top of a fjord and ate lunch on Pulpit Rock and also went on a kayaking tour around a few islands. It was an amazing day, sunny, warm and beautiful.”

From Norway, the students travelled to the Shetland Islands, where they visited the Sullom Voe oil terminal.

Playing with fire trucks and tugboats

“We got a tour of the facility, and one of their specialists talked about the emergency response activities,” Nick continues. “It was very interesting to see how prepared they are for incidents. They have two massive fire trucks there and during the demonstration, the force from the water was carving paths in the hill, it was that powerful!”

They then visited a nearby pollution centre, which is where response equipment is stored for oil leak situations. Here they got to travel on the tugboats used to help manoeuvre oil tankers close to the jetties.

“We also went into one of the crude oil tanks at Sullom Voe,” says Hugh. “These are massive tanks which hold 600,000 barrels of oil. They’re under restoration right now so we got to go inside and stand on top of one, which was amazing.”

Next on the journey was a stop off at BP’s Aberdeen offices, where the students heard about the company’s North Sea business and met with one of the chief scientists, before heading down to BP’s International Centre of Business and Technology in Surrey, for a final presentation as a whole group.

What they’ve gained from the BP internship

There was so much to take in over just two weeks but all the students felt like they’ve come away from the internship with a lot.

“I loved being exposed to all the different types of technology used in the production of oil and gas,” says Ravier. “It’s not just drill bits and oil rigs. It’s also helicopters, remotely operated vehicles and we got to see all the cutting edge stuff that they have there. “

“For me, it was just being able to see the scale at which these upstream operations are done, the money that’s been invested, the scale at which these operations are happening, the technology that’s used, the resources that are utilised,” continues Nick. “I’m a chemical engineer, and we learn a lot about downstream operations, but hardly have any exposure to upstream. It really piqued my interest.”

Personal development and confidence

The students also feel that they’ve gained some real personal development from the experience, not just in technical knowledge, but in confidence and soft skills.

“Some of us might not have been the most confident public speakers before, but we’ve had all this experience now,” notes Ravier. “It’s a good way to boost your confidence and make you realise that as young people we have good ideas and can improve our way of life, globally. It was confidence building, and that’s something we’ll all take away from this experience.”

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