As Booth Welsh continues to expands its international reach and footprint, we caught up with Ed O’Brien, Systems Engineer who is seconded to a project in Singapore just now.
Hi Ed, so where are you just now?
I’m currently at the Keppel’s Tual Shipyard in Singapore.
When did you arrive and how long are you there for?
I arrived in July and I will be here for few months.
Who is the client and what is the project scope?
Our client is a Water Systems company based in Scotland and the end client is based in Kuala Lumpar, Malaysia. I am involved in the Sulphate Reduction Package control system and panel that we have produced for our client using Siemens PCS7.
What is your role within the project?
I’m here as the systems engineer for pre-commissioning.
The FPSO is still in the shipyard and before it sets sail, we will power on the panel and check that all the transmitters and devices are functioning. Once it is in its final location in Angola, we will move to commissioning properly which is where we check that the sequences perform as expected. Once this stage is complete, the system will be handed over for production. This is where our role ends, unless the end client wishes to have ongoing technical support.
What is a typical day like for you?
The working day starts at 7am. It’s around a 30 minute commute from the hotel to the shipyard depending on traffic. I get changed into my PPE and head up to the FPSO (Floating Production Storage and Offloading vessel – Fancy oil rig). I have a toolbox talk to plan the activities for the day ahead.
Hopefully, each loop that we check will work first time, but sometimes there can be wiring or instrumentation errors that have to be corrected before we move on to the next. I stay on-board for lunch because the stairs are murder and once a day is enough for me!
The afternoon follows the same format as the morning. Before finishing I write my daily report, archive the system and plan the next day’s activities. The work day ends around 6pm. The evenings are free to do what I want…within reason.
What has been your favourite site/place over there?
I’ve not been anywhere yet, but fortunately this site only works 6 days a week so I will have Sundays to myself. Singapore has many sights which are close to where my hotel is but for me I’m very keen on visiting the F1 GP Track and some of the war memorials.
How does the culture in Singapore differ from the UK?
Singapore has very low crime compared to the UK. The public areas are very clean and safe. There is even a chewing gun ban. There is a massive mix of nationalities here; this site for example is primarily Indian workers.
But also because Singapore is a stopover on the way to Oz, there are loads of tourists. The cost of living is very expensive, a pint of lager for example is almost £10, compared to Brazil where I could have a whole night out for a tenner.
What do you enjoy most about working abroad?
I’d say the opportunity to work in some fantastic places and meet interesting people around the globe. Strangely, I generally don’t get to enjoy the weather as I’m usually in a windowless instrument room somewhere!
What do you miss most about home?
My Xbox… Obviously it’s my family, I’ve travelled a lot during my time at Booth Welsh so my family are used to it but it doesn’t make it any easier. My dad used to work in Algeria and Nigeria for ICI in the 80’s so I know what it’s like for them but these days we have Skype so we chat daily. All my sister and I had when we were kids was taped messages and air mail letters once a month to keep in touch. How times have changed!