Implementing effective and robust resolutions for rotating equipment applications in the oil & gas industry

Pump Engineer was delighted to speak with Consultant Mechanical Engineer, George Kontarakis, about his role at Petrofac, an international service provider to the oil and gas industry, from their London, UK offices.
With numerous degrees relating to mechanical engineering, George Kontarakis has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to rotating equipment. He graduated from the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST) in 1998 with a degree in Mechanical Systems Engineering, which was a combination of conventional, mechanical and electrical engineering undergraduate courses. He then continued on to pursue further postgraduate studies, earning a Master’s degree and Doctorate in the Engineering Department at the University of Cambridge, which was funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and Ford Motor Company in the UK, via an Industrial Cooperative Award in Science and Technology (CASE Award). It is clear that George has had a combination of invaluable education and work experience to lay the foundation for his successful career. “After my studies, and the academic insights these degrees provided to fluid mechanics and fluid machines, my first real encounter with pumps was at my first job where, as a Senior Performance Development Engineer, I was responsible for the performance and heat balance aspects of a combined heat and power generation engine up-rate project,” says George. Since then, following that initial experience and his entry into the oil and gas industry, he has been continuously involved with pumps on a regular basis. As a Rotating Machinery Engineer for major oil and gas operators he was exposed to operational and maintenance aspects of pumps ranging from humble sub-kW utility and chemical process pumps, to crude oil pipeline transfer and distillation unit crude oil charge pumps, high pressure steam boiler pumps, multi-MW gas turbine driven water injection pumps and large multi-phase flow pipeline pumps. “As my exposure, relationship, understanding and awareness of pumps and pumping systems continues to evolve, that fundamental link between the pump and the pumping system remains as valid and as interesting as ever,” he states. George is currently a specialist in rotating machinery and systems involving rotating machines. His role involves acting as either a Lead Engineer or Specialist Consultant on feasibility, concept selection, FEED (Front End Engineering Design), detailed design or EPC projects. He is also responsible for formulating resolutions to technically challenging and/or high profile issues, and effectively communicating these issues to clients and senior management. His duties also include being a Subject Matter Expert for rotating equipment within Petrofac’s Engineering and Production Services’ (EPS) business, supporting their delivery of consultancy services. The EPS business is focused on helping clients to safely unlock the value of their assets by maximising efficiency and reducing risk throughout the asset’s lifecycle. The aim is to help clients make the best technical decisions from conceptual design to decommissioning projects. “I am often involved with all of these stages, as I have had exposure to a broad range of projects and applications,” says George. Interestingly, George can find himself equally managing a team of discipline engineers on a large scale and / or acting completely independently, such as advising a client or management on technical issues of individual projects. He expands on this topic by explaining his involvement with training new graduates: “We have a team that has a good balance of experienced engineers and new graduate engineers. Often, when I have allocated work to new graduates, I will mentor them to elevate their level of awareness and expertise, and give them advice on subjects and machinery difficulties. Passing on knowledge to younger generations and personnel succession planning is essential to the future of the industry.”

Collaborating, identifying and resolving
On a typical day George has to juggle a variety of tasks, often having to oversee his own as well as his team’s activities as they progress with various engineering design tasks across one or more projects. He checks in with his discipline engineers, as well as supervising, reviewing and checking mechanical activities and deliverables, including the preparation of equipment and package specifications and datasheets; specialist studies such as pump, compressor and driver selections; preparing technical requisitions for long lead items; and bid evaluations, including the identification and
resolution of discrepancies and divergences from enquiry data sheets and specifications. In addition, George liaises with suppliers and clients, ensuring that they are satisfied with the level, quality and progress of the deliverables involved, or presenting them with the findings and recommendations arising from the work he is performing for them. “I also look out for any requests for assistance from across our project teams, review those and notify our Resource Manager on high criticality and / or urgent requests,” he adds. “Following that, I will often take some time to plan and schedule the next day’s activities, so as to ensure my jobs run smoothly without undue process upsets.”

To read the full interview with George Kontarakis, please contact Deirdre Morgan

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