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Jolie McDade – Apprentice Production Technician

Woman standing in orange overalls with yellow oil platform in background

As a Production Technician on the Culzean platform (located in the North Sea), my main role is to monitor plant equipment and processes to ensure there are no anomalies and that all systems are operating correctly. 

With Culzean providing around 5% of the UK’s gas demand, it’s essential the platform operates safely and efficiently to maximise production and meet the UK’s energy needs. I really enjoy feeling I have a role in helping to achieve this and secure the critical energy supply we need to keep the power on across the UK.

What does your day-to-day role involve?

When required, I respond to any plant upsets to ensure there are no production losses. I’ll regularly isolate various pieces of equipment for maintenance to ensure the safety of those carrying out work scopes. I also maintain constant communication with the control room, responding to their requests and feeding back the status of the plant on the platform.

Why did you join the energy industry?

I was attracted to the energy industry because of the possibility of long-term career development. The industry is evolving due to the transition to a lower carbon energy mix, but we shouldn’t forget that oil and gas still has an important role to play for years to come. I was keen to learn from the decades of experience and expertise that exists in the oil and gas sector, which could later be transferable to renewable projects.

The Oil & Gas Technical Apprentice Programme (OGTAP) provided the perfect opportunity for this. I saw it advertised, did some research around the energy industry and knew this could provide the skills-set for an exciting career with plenty of progression opportunities.

What kind of training and support are you given during your apprenticeship?

After completing two years at college, I have been sponsored by TotalEnergies to complete two years of on-the job training. On my first trip offshore, I was assigned an experienced mentor who has provided support and guidance throughout my apprenticeship. I was warmly welcomed into my role by my mentor, and the rest of the department, and quickly felt integrated into the team. This support has enabled me to complete my SVQ 3 in Processing Hydrocarbons. I’ve also carried out platform specific training, as well as various other courses required for the role.

What key skills have you learned?

I’ve learned so many new skills which I know will benefit me long into my career. For example, time management – something which is vital to ensure my delegated daily tasks are completed on time and to a high standard.

I’ve also learned the importance of problem solving and fault finding, and how knowledge of process systems helps in resolving any issues. I’ve also been able to develop my practical skills around what I learned in college such as carrying out isolations where mechanical joints require disassembling and reassembling.

What has been your highlight so far?

A highlight of my time on Culzean has been joining the environmental representative team, where we look at making our facilities as environmentally friendly as possible. The energy sector has a continued focus on improving sustainability and we’re always working on innovative ways to reduce Culzean’s impact on the environment, such as our waste disposal process and waste reduction project.

What advice do you have for someone thinking of applying for an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship in the energy sector is a brilliant gateway into a varied and exciting career. The potential for learning and development is excellent.

Although it’s a male dominated industry, women shouldn’t be discouraged from seeking a career in this field. From my personal experience, I’ve found that everyone is treated equally and is given the same opportunity regardless of their gender. 

I’d wholeheartedly recommend applying – you won’t regret it.