Tom Roach, Enjoying The Ride (Page 1 of 3) 4 Aug 2012 recently caught up with young professional Tom Roach, a Production Engineer with ConocoPhillips on the Bayu-Undan platform (Joint Petroleum Development Area) who completed the taxing Tour de Timor mountain bike race in September 2011.

Although engineering didn't occur to him as a possible career path when he was young, Roach was a scientific child with a strong mechanical mind. He was always conducting experiments and assembling mechanical equipment when growing up on his family’s farm.

"Throughout high school, engineering became a natural fit for me. I was very strong in maths, physics and chemistry and undertaking a double degree in Petroleum Engineering and Commerce at the University of Western Australia justified my occasional dabbling on the stock market," he said.

"I was interested in petroleum engineering as soon as I enrolled into university. I was attracted by the huge scale of oil and gas projects, and the opportunity to work on offshore platforms which can be several hundred kilometres off the coast.”

During university he completed a vacation internship at ChevronTexaco and later, during his final year, undertook a research thesis in the Venture Gas Subsurface Technology group. He commenced the graduate program at Chevron and performed various reservoir/petroleum engineering roles within Wheatstone, Barrow Island and non-operated assets: Malampaya (Philippines), Browse, and North-West Shelf. The highlight was his first offshore visit to the semi-submersible drilling rig as a reservoir engineer during flow-back of the Wheatstone drill-stem test (DST).

After undertaking a Graduate reservoir engineering role at Chevron, Roach was interested in obtaining operations experience. He was presented with a unique opportunity to relocate to Darwin with ConocoPhillips and work as a production engineer on the Bayu-Undan project. "I knew I wouldn’t regret my decision to move to Darwin after I was travelling offshore on my second week of employment to fill an engineering gap in the offshore roster," he said.

Bayu-Undan is a sophisticated offshore fractionation plant that separates condensate, propane and butane prior to exporting lean gas to Darwin for LNG liquefaction. His role reports through the Operations group and is primarily responsible for ensuring that production rates from the field are optimised in line with reservoir management plans and maintenance schedules.

"Typically my daily duties include production forecasting, well modelling, well intervention planning and execution, process modelling, offtake scheduling and well integrity. My role is multi-disciplinary and requires key interaction with drilling, well services, reservoir engineering, operations, logistics, commercial, along with vendors and service companies."

As a mountain biking enthusiast and avid traveller it made sense that Roach would jump at the opportunity to participate in the Tour de Timor, a gruelling event through the remote areas of Timor-Leste.