The platforms are kitted out with fully functioning analytical chemistry labs, explains Gebbie. ‘We take samples from our facility at various times of the day to check that we are complying with operational and environmental guidelines.’ Routine tests include checking water content in oil samples and ensuring water brought up from the well contains minimal amounts of oil before it is discharged overboard. Gas is also monitored, although these samples are collected by Gebbie and shipped back to onshore labs for analysis. Other typical offshore tests include ensuring no chemicals are corroding equipment. ‘We also take samples of potable water ... the water we use on the platform is delivered by a supply vessel, and we need to make sure that it is of good drinking quality,’ says Gebbie.
Although Gebbie is the only chemist on the platform, she is supported by a team of chemists on the mainland. These onshore labs give most offshore chemists – including Gebbie – their first taste of life in the oil industry. ‘It is quite rare for someone to go straight offshore into a fixed position – you would build up through ad hoc trips to gain experience and not be thrown in at the deep end,’ she explains.
To get a job in an onshore lab, a relevant degree or extensive industrial experience is required. Gebbie completed her degree in forensic science and law at Aberdeen’s Robert Gordon University in 2009, and joined Intertek in 2010, where she gained analytical experience (testing new machine oils and lubricants for potential use on the platforms) and made short trips offshore. In 2012, she took a permanent offshore role, before moving to her current platform in 2014.
The make-up of the approximately 80 staff on Gebbie’s current offshore platform is fairly typical for the industry; the platform is owned by the oil company but only around a third of the employees work directly for them. The remainder work for third party service providers.
Gebbie is also the only woman on the platform. Again, this is fairly typical. But Gebbie doesn’t see this as a problem. ‘I’m used to it now. But I would love to see more females [on the platforms], they should not be put off that it’s a male-dominated environment,’ she says. ‘At Intertek, one in five offshore chemists is female.’
Read the full article HERE at Chemistry World