The oil and gas industry is once again back on its feet after the BP Macondo incident in the Gulf of Mexico. Drilling for new discoveries is showing a healthy recovery and FMC Technologies is preparing to meet the expected demand for future subsea infrastructure with an aggressive expansion plan.

As a senior product design engineer at FMC Technologies, Mr Damien Wee (right) knows the consequences of equipment failure. He says: “The blowout in the Gulf of Mexico showed how easily something can go catastrophically wrong in such a short space of time. Subsea equipment is expected to be reliable for a very long time, typically more than 20 years, and therefore our design philosophy is “zero defects” in everything we do.”

Mr Wee and his colleague, product design engineer Estella Ngan, design, manufacture and service technologically sophisticated systems and products such as subsea production and processing systems, surface wellhead systems, high pressure fluid control equipment, measurement solutions, and marine loading systems for the oil and gas industry. 

Mr Wee has been with FMC Technologies since he graduated with a mechanical engineering degree from the National University of Singapore (NUS) seven years ago.

He says: “Every day, we face new challenges and that makes for a dynamic and rewarding job.”

The biggest challenge he has faced so far was on the Shell Gumusut Kakap project offshore Malaysia. As senior engineer in the Well Access Systems group, he was responsible for the design and manufacture of the intervention system.

“Due to the complexity of the project and the first major EPC (Engineer, Procure, Construct) in the region, it was by far the greatest challenge in terms of project management and teamwork, but we accomplished it safely,” he says proudly.

Being part of a multinational corporation (MNC) that pays attention to how staff are developed spurs Mr Wee on too. He says: “The working environment encourages creativity and innovation. Also, being an MNC, we have engineers of all nationalities working here in Singapore. There is an interesting mix of cultures because we have staff from all over the world: Norway, Australia, the US, UK and many other countries.”

Building human capital is a company priority, and Mr Wee has attended various training courses both locally and abroad. These courses ranged from safety programmes to personal development workshops that prepared him to take on more significant roles.

Ms Ngan (right), who holds a mechanical engineering degree from NUS, has also enjoyed a fruitful career with FMC Technologies since graduating in 2008. After completing her internship in the Graduate Development Programme, she started work immediately in the oil and gas industry after graduation.

She recalls: “Friends and family were sceptical of my choice of profession given that it is perceived as a male-dominated industry. How wrong they were. My first engineering manager was a Norwegian woman and she inspired me to take the career path I intend to follow.”

The first project Ms Ngan was assigned to involved material coatings. “It was quite daunting to go out of my comfort zone (mechanical engineering) and research the topic but it was an important part of the design I was working on at the time.

“It was very challenging but with the support of our global engineering community I distilled all the information into a comprehensive report that influenced our final choice of design. Great fun, when I think back about it,” she says.

She recently completed a global project on welding technology.

She says: “I had to record the views of many international experts within our company. I spent two months in Scotland during the summer of 2010 at FMC’s Global Centre of Excellence for Welding Technology. It was hard work investigating new methods for narrow gap welding. On the weekends, I loved visiting the beautiful Scottish countryside near our manufacturing facility in Dunfermline.”

Since returning from Scotland, Ms Ngan has been working on tenders and proposals.

She says: “Currently I’m reviewing the requirements for two major EPC projects. I’ll be assigned to the design engineering teams once we are awarded these projects.”

Environmental and work-life balance issues are important to the company’s employees. The Quality Life Club (QLC) organises regular events. Adds Miss Ngan: “It is important to get the right balance between work and your social life. I joined the QLC committee to help promote that. The weekly badminton sessions are a great way to unwind with colleagues and strengthen relationships.” 

The energy industry offers good prospects and opportunities for international assignments. She says: “If you look forward to the day-to-day challenges that keep you thinking, and have a global mindset, the oil and gas industry would definitely be a choice for you.”