WELL INTEGRITY engineer Kein Kep has made his way to the University of Adelaide to study for a Masters of Petroleum Engineering after winning an Australia Awards Scholarship.

After graduating from Papua New Guinea University of Technology in 2009 with a degree in Mining Engineering, Mr Kep found employment with Oil Search in the Kutubu oilfield.

The new role was a significant departure from the fields in which Mr Kep had experience, with petroleum engineering requiring a good knowledge of geophysics, petroleum geology, formation evaluation (well logging), drilling, economics, reservoir simulation, reservoir engineering, well engineering, artificial lift systems, completions and oil and gas facilities engineering among others.

“I had to learn a lot of things myself and it was like on the job training for me because it was really different from my mining qualification from Unitech,” he said.

Mr Kep said that initially, the role of a petroleum engineer covered most of the reservoir engineering site, production engineering, drilling and well integrity and well interventions.

As work at the project increased and expanded alongside the PNG LNG project, the roles become more specialised, and Mr Kep moved into the well integrity department when it was established in mid-2013.

Oil Search saw the need to streamline jobs making it more specific for petroleum by creating the well integrity department and Mr Kep among other staffs in the petroleum engineering field moved into those roles.

He was also involved setting up the baseline system which is currently operating however, it is still a work in progress.

“My basic role in the petroleum department is to monitor all the wellheads,” he said.

“From an engineering definition, a wellhead is the component at the surface of an oil or gas well that provides the structural and pressure-containing interface for the drilling and production equipment.”

The role also involves monitoring a variety of systems, from the wellhead right down into the formation itself, to ensure the structural integrity of the well, as well as mitigating any harm to the plant site, employees and the environment.

Papua New Guinea is a challenging place to explore for oil and gas, providing invaluable experiences for any petroleum engineer with the right qualifications, helping them to one day pursue their career anywhere in the world.

“I see myself coming back and taking over some of the senior responsibilities in the field and mentoring upcoming local engineers.”

Most of the people Mr Kep works with graduated from petroleum engineering schools overseas because Papua New Guinea does not have such qualifications on offer at local universities. Most of these people are expatriates and Papua New Guinea has only a few qualified engineers in this field.

“I see there is a need for more Papua New Guineans to become specialists in the petroleum engineering field in order to come back and develop the oil and gas industry in the country,” he said.

“I want to study the course itself and understand the theoretical knowledge because I believe that with the work experience I have it will complement my studies in petroleum engineering and will greatly help me with my work.”