Our people Our most valuable asset
We employ around 300 professionals from many different countries and backgrounds. Working in different departments, each one of them is an ambitious expert in his or her field, who enjoys working for us in an exciting and ever challenging environment. The testimonials on this page will give you an idea of their work within our company as well as of their ambition, drive and enthusiasme in their every day working life.
Our employees are our key competitive advantage. That is why we are committed to helping all employees find opportunities that best fit their unique talents. We believe in providing a stimulating environment and room for professional growth, and we make sure that each new team member has the opportunity to work with the best professionals, ensuring that you will collaborate with interesting people from all kinds of backgrounds.
Kristina Arutyunova Production Engineer
Kristina is excited about a new project she will be working on for the coming years: a new subsea well in the Dutch asset. She is looking forward to the possibilities this will bring to develop her technical skills – as learning is what she loves best.
Is this a big challenge for you?
‘I do not like the word challenge. I see work as a learning curve, and I welcome any opportunity to develop myself. For this project – as well as the others I will still be working on – I will be involved in completion, well testing, production, and cost optimization; the latter being a hot topic lately as most of the wells are mature by now, in their tail stage. One of the subjects I hope to learn a lot about in this new project is flow assurance. I will be involved in setting up models for the production prediction and optimization, based on the reservoir performance and the constraints of the production system.’
What do you mean by constraints?
‘A production system includes the reservoir, wells, facilities, and export system, so constraints can be associated with any of these network components. For example, you should not open a new well too strongly as this might cause erosion of the pipes or reservoir water influx. You need to take aspects into account such as maximum capacity of surface facilities (separators, compressors, etc.) and, last but not least, contract obligations.’
“I see work as a learning curve.”
Can you give me an example of what can go wrong?
‘I remember a few instances when a well got blocked with salt. Chloride can cause salt precipitation in a well and plug it up. We try to minimize this, of course, for example by controlling flowing pressure, but when it does happen, you need to take measures to unblock it. This may involve injecting water or acid from the top of the well or using special downhole equipment, which is a more expensive option.’
When and how did you join Wintershall?
‘I was born and raised in Moscow, Russia, to a family of Armenian descent. At the age of 17, I passed my entrance exams to go to University, and as my father – and other family members as well – worked in the oil and gas industry, I decided to study petroleum engineering. My idea was that it is interesting work, the pay is good, and it offers lots of ways to learn new things and meet new people. After graduating with a Master’s degree from Gubkin Russian State University of Oil and Gas in Moscow, I worked in the department of underground gas storage of a research institute. At an international conference organized by the institute, I was introduced to several people working in the Underground Gas Storage department of WINGAS. As the contacts were established, the opportunity was offered to go to Germany for a one-year work experience placement. I was excited about the chance to learn German and develop my skills, but when I was there, I noticed that all the technical work was actually done by contractors. That was when I decided to apply for the SPEAD programme of Wintershall, a two-year programme for young engineers with projects around the world. From there, I was selected for a position in Rijswijk. This was in 2012. I remember that I came here on my first day, and a colleague told me about problems in several wells that would have to be solved urgently, and I thought: How am I going to fix all that on my first day of work? I have to smile when I remember this now… But they reassured me that this is a team effort, and we are all here to help each other.’
Frido de Kool Maintenance Engineer
When the maintenance team learned that a particularly promising idea for a mobile maintenance solution was to be shelved for budgetary reasons, they set out to find ways to overcome this obstacle – and turned a challenge into a success.
Wintershall 4.0, a company-specific follow-up to the Industry 4.0 revolution, produced as many as 25 ideas for innovative solutions. One of them was a particularly interesting idea for a mobile maintenance solution, but as other ideas, such as drone-based inspections, were prioritized, this one was shelved for reasons of budgetary constraints. However, the maintenance team were not about to let that happen.
There has to be a way…
Project leader Frido de Kool recounts: ‘I knew there had to be a way – a low-budget way – so I contacted BASF and convinced them to lend us an explosion-proof tablet. In a later stage, we also managed to borrow a second tablet from a provider in the Netherlands to test Windows against Android. Next on the list was an app that was compatible with Maximo, the desktop maintenance program that we use. Those licences are expensive, though, so I negotiated with the provider until they allowed us to use the app free of licence fees for the duration of the pilot. Now, all we needed was to have a WiFi network installed at the site of the Q8 terminal where we would conduct the pilot project. I felt like a pioneer, an adventurer on a mission, and it worked!’
This success would not have been possible without the help and support of our dedicated team.
Frido de Kool
How it works
Instead of running back and forth from the office to the plant, maintenance engineers can take the tablet to the plant, log in to the EZMaxMobile app, and press the start button to begin. After completing the job, you press the stop button and the app automatically saves the time registration. You can fill in the logbook on the spot and even add a photo if necessary. Apart from saving time, the mobile solution is expected to provide better insight into the time spent on maintenance, failure patterns and maintenance costs.
Sceptics won over
‘The pilot eventually lasted two months and in the beginning, some people were enthusiastic while others were sceptical as innovation always involves change and uncertainty. A survey conducted after the pilot, however, revealed that the crew were highly satisfied with the app and its speed and functionality. It was really funny to see how people who had been sceptical at first were sad to see the tablets go in the end!’
As from the third quarter of 2019, the EZMaxMobile project will be resumed where it was left off and developed into a mature, sustainable solution. Subsequently, it will be rolled out on the newly to be developed F17 production platform.
Remco Vollering Maintenance Specialist
Remco Vollering runs his own shop, as he puts it, as a maintenance specialist responsible for power generation. He flies from asset to asset to analyse and solve structural problems, manage the input of contractors, and implement action plans for improvement together with them and the teams on site.
‘Most of my work involves rotating equipment. It is about analysing problems, understanding the correlation, and approaching the issue from various angles. We monitor conditions for every individual machine, and anticipate by changing settings or maintenance intervals, which helps to avoid hefty investments in new installations and to keep operational costs within limits. Running a tight ship with a relatively small team of highly skilled and motivated people – just the right people in the right place – has enabled us to achieve 97.5% availability of equipment, which is quite high in this line of business. I like my role as an intermediary between on- and offshore and as the go-to person for mechanics and engineers, being able to give them advice to solve problems or input for engineering projects. The kind of person we call “the oil guy” in Dutch – quite appropriate in this context. After all, offshore work is not always easy with all the noise, the stench, and the heat in the engine rooms. Mechanical stuff has always been my passion, not just the technology but also making sure that equipment functions at a high level.’
Remco really loves his work, stating spontaneously: ‘This is the best job I could ever wish for. Imagine checking in at 7 o’clock, flying off to a platform, and doing your thing. Laundry and cooking are taken care of, and by the time you take the helicopter back to shore, everything is better than when you came in – most of the time, anyway. There are times that I have days or weeks on end that I can spend quality time with my children – I am not a night daddy by any means. Of course, it helps to have a partner who can deal with two-week shifts offshore sometimes.’
In the dark
Rush jobs are all part of the game, as he explains: ‘Just this morning, we had a power outage. The machine stopped and everything went dark. After some troubleshooting, we soon figured out which part was failing. That is where our Critical Spare policy comes in: we could just simply take the culprit off the shelf – a magnet coil of a piston – put it in, and that was it. It honestly makes me happy to know that we are prepared and ready to deal with virtually any challenge!’
Sometimes, old machines are better than new ones, and I hate to let a good thing go to waste.
Dennis Hamburg Buyer
With national and international politics moving away from fossil fuels and wells being abandoned, oil and gas is an increasingly tough market, so efficiency is of paramount importance. That is why Dennis Hamburg, Buyer at Wintershall in Den Helder, is always looking for smart and efficient solutions – together with his network of suppliers and the mechanical and electrical engineers.
Efficiency is paramount
Key to a buyer’s responsibility is good communication, always maintaining a helicopter view, and making cost-benefit analyses at rocket speed. Dennis explained: ‘The people working offshore on the assets have to be able to rely on us, the buyers, to handle requests fast and efficiently. Their work depends on it. If a helicopter runs out of jet fuel, if they need supplies or an extra pair of hands, it is up to us to make sure that whatever they need is shipped off as soon as possible. And as money is tight these days in the oil and gas industry, we have to come up with efficient, cost-effective solutions and to make sure that we get it right the first time. This challenge is actually the best part of my work. Urgent matters and rush jobs are my cup of tea.’
Urgent matters and rush jobs are my cup of tea.
‘To give you an example, the other day, we noticed that the netting on a helicopter deck had slightly slipped away from its safe angle. It seemed that all options to return it to the right angle were too expensive, involving flying in equipment from the other side of the world, for instance. You know, the more exotic the equipment, the higher the cost. So, I got in touch with a few contacts in my network to discuss the problem, and one of them came back to me within half a day with a very smart and relatively inexpensive solution: a simple adaptor consisting of two pipes supported by a bracket that would tilt the netting back to its original angle. We had this contraption made over the following days, and the engineers were quite pleased with it.’
Telephones are indispensable
‘It makes it a lot easier that we have short lines of communication here and that we all support one another and stop by each other’s office whenever we need to bounce off ideas. This job keeps you on your toes at all hours, and sometimes it requires balancing responsibilities – also those of a father of young children. Just last week, we had to take our six-week-old baby to hospital, and even in the parking lot I was still on the phone fixing an emergency. In fact, most of the time I am on the phone with half the North Sea, but it is so rewarding to be able to contribute and help the colleagues on the assets.’