IPI's Dave Knell speaks the universal language of drill rigs (Page 1 of 5) 8 Aug 2013

IPI Operations Director Dave Knell has read and relates to Paul Carter's fabulously funny story of life offshore entitled, Don't Tell Mum I Work on the Rigs, She Thinks I'm a Pianist in a Whorehouse. In another context, from first hand experience he says there's nothing comical when understanding on a drill rig gets lost in translation more reminiscent of Basil's tempestuous relationship with Spanish hotel waiter Manuel in the fabled Fawlty Towers.

Needless to say, in a career spanning 26-years that started in inflatable packers as an apprentice at age 15, there's not much any human relations expert could tell the Perth-born, bred and trained fitter and turner about speaking the universal language that cuts across cultural, language and religious barriers.

From freezing in France and aching in the Arctic, to roasting in the Rajasthan Desert and musing on life in a Mongolian yurt with outside temperatures of -30 Deg C, Knell has much to reflect on in the odyssey of setting packers and the human dynamics that prescribes the success of global operations.

Today he is more workshop bound directing new packer research, design development and production, within IPI in his capacity as a company director and shareholder in Pitino Court, which he likes to call “the shortest street in Osborne Park”.

Without hesitation, Knell says the achievement that has given him the most satisfaction in his career are the employees on his team who have stayed loyal to the company for over eight years. That's some statement considering that as production team leader, he was responsible for building and testing packers believed to be the largest ever constructed, for Woodside's Goodwin A Project.

But as the man tasked to build, train and maintain the team, nurturing younger recruits onto the next rung of the ladder, Knell regards it as a personal badge of honour that the company has only ever lost “one employee that we regretted and would love to have back”.

“That was Ernie, an indigenous feller and one of our first packer builders, who left because his family moved across to Queensland and were drawing him over east,” he explains.

Another highly-valued employee left IPI for a major oilfield company, but returned four months later, highlighting the main reason Knell has stayed with the characteristically home grown Australian company.

It's a common refrain for IPI workers to field questions over which major, global oilfield services company they cut their teeth with, then watch the astonished reaction accompanying the response , “none of them”.