A female petroleum engineer from Mann Oil Field
The Junior Engineer enjoys working as part of the field operations team in Mann Field where she sees the results of her efforts first hand.
Petroleum engineering is the application of science, engineering and economic principles to the discovery of oil and gas resources over land and under seabeds. It is one of the most challenging and rewarding careers that ensures access to energy and national prosperity in our modern civilization which depends on vast energy systems. In this regard, petroleum engineers function in oil and gas exploration and production projects around the world and here is the story of a female petroleum engineer, Naw Floriance George, aka Floriance, working in one of Myanmar’s onshore producing fields which has played an important role in fulfilling national energy needs since 1970.
Floriance, named after St. Floriance for being a Roman Catholic born on his feast day, hails from northern Kayin State, and her earliest and closest experience with petroleum was the kerosene lantern with which she worked on her lessons with at night during her childhood. She introduced herself saying, “I was born in a town called Leik Tho in Kayin State. I studied my secondary school years at a boarding school in Pyin Oo Lwin. I
am a Kayin Gekho by ethnicity, like the well-known Myanmar women professional fighting sensations Bozhena Antoniyar and Veronica. Naw is an honorific for all the girls and women, and George is my family name. There is no one associated with with petroleum field in my family.”
Quizzed about how she happened to choose the petroleum engineering subject as she was applying for universities upon passing the Matriculation Examination in 2012, Floriance laughed and said, “The decision is like love at first sight. I really had no idea what the subject would be all about. I saw an offshore rig, a very big one, on the university’s prospectus and I decided this is what I wanted to study. Boom!”
While studying petroleum engineering for six long years at the Yangon Technological University (YTU), she went all out to make the most of the multiple internships at MPRL E&P and Petronas Carligali Myanmar (PCML). When asked if she could work as part of the field operations team in Mann Field during the job interview, she was beyond herself with excitement at the idea of getting her hands dirty and being on the frontlines. Then, she successfully landed her career as a Junior Engineer in December 2018.
Today Floriance is full of pride and satisfaction for her role in the production operations in Mann Field where she gained hands-on experience every day with the mentorship of senior colleagues which includes engineers, geologists and technicians. She said, “Production optimization operations is the playing ground where I imagined to be all the time during my final year at YTU. I like starting with the basics and I love to go the extra mile at a time. I want to see the result of my efforts first hand so, a field job suits my personality.”
She spared no effort during the first few months of her career in Mann Field, and Floriance has now garnered a good grasp of the production enhancement operations and the importance of teamwork. “The daily production of Mann Oil Field depends on the synergy of the whole field operations team. To have team work, means comprehending one another and understanding that their jobs matter. We will leave no stone unturned!”
Floriance also enjoys taking the very challenges of consummating the marriage of theory and practice in daily operations. “Because we cannot see everything with our own eyes, some have to be imagined in the mind’s eye. When problems arise on the ground, we have to figure out a practical solution, and I love it. Another challenge is to take the positive safety culture we already have to a whole new level where each and every one of the folks here lives by it.”
Life in the field is also a challenge, Floriance agreed. “The weather is different. In summer, it is scorching hot and we are prone to heat stroke and heat stress. In winter, you have to anticipate temperatures dropping to a freezing point. Both types of these extreme weather conditions affect us. I live in a separate cabin in the camp with another female junior engineer colleague from the same batch at university. We are in different teams and so we seize ample opportunities to exchange our ex
periences after daily routines. Normally, we work for 12 hours a day and stay in the camp for 28 consecutive days. There are a set of rules to follow while in the camp. Then we are off to home for two weeks. So far so good.”
Expounding on the success of the enhanced oil production techniques in Mann Field, the Junior Engineer said, “We work on optimizing and stabilizing oil production on a daily basis. Personally, I like using software applications to promote and support these operations. Now we are targeting to implement the spot water injection project in Mann Field. As we step up our efforts to extract more oil, we need to manage potential social and environmental impacts from our operations. I recall our Country Manager U Sithu Moe Myint giving a good example on the importance of social management in extractive projects during the orientation week. I believe we have very strong and successful social and environmental management programs in Mann Field, for instance, vocational trainings for local communities and zero discharge targets.”
While she is learning to involve herself actively in many aspects of the onshore field operations in Mann Field, Floriance entertains the idea of participating in the offshore oil and gas development as the offshore drilling rig was what attracted her to the industry. Floriance uttered decisively, “I am aware of what I wanted to become may not fit into traditional gender roles but I have stuck to my guns to pursue my dreams anyways. The oil and gas industry is said to be a tough one with heavy machinery and dangerous operations, and not suitable for the faint-hearted. According to my experiences here, I can do what other male counterparts are doing, and I have set my heart on becoming a professional petroleum engineer in the future. So the debate is over.”