Becoming A Filipino Oil & Gas Electrical Practitioner

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Guest Author: Ver Pangonilo

In my experience in the Oil & Gas sector as an electrical practitioner in various countries worldwide for more than a couple of decades now, it became apparent to me that the Oil & Gas industry is not friendly in welcoming new practitioners trying to move their career into this sector. In most cases, it will just be another failed job interview. The only easy and proven method to penetrate the Oil & Gas sector is being currently employed in a company that happens to get involvement in this industry. This is not a guarantee though that it will be smooth sailing thereafter particularly in the current oil price situation which has just dropped below the magic $40 per barrel level. I have known people that have tried to moved on and failed.

Are you still interested in changing or making your career in the Oil & Gas industry? If yes, continue reading else I may just be wasting your time going through this article.

Every industry sector requires specific knowledge and skill set. For the Oil & Gas sector, in addition to the general know-how of Electrical Engineering, competency relevant in the design, installation, erection, operation and maintenance of Oil & Gas plants and equipment is required, not optional.

Oil & Gas, Petrochemical or similar plants have hazardous areas created by the processing of flammable substances. Hazardous areas which require careful attention and consideration in all stages of the plant life from concept definition up to operation and maintenance. Hazardous area and explosive atmosphere are defined in IEC 60079-0 Explosive atmospheres – Part 0: Equipment – General requirements, as

hazardous area
an area in which an explosive atmosphere is present, or may be expected to be present, in quantities such as to require special precautions for the construction, installation and use of electrical apparatus

explosive atmosphere
mixture with air, under atmospheric conditions, of flammable substances in the form of gas, vapour, dust, fibres, or flyings which, after ignition, permits self-sustaining propagation

It is clearly stipulated in IEC 60079 Explosive atmospheres – Part 14: Electrical installations design, selection and erection, the qualifications of personnel for the design of installation, the selection and the erection of equipment.

As per this standard, only persons whose training has included instruction on the various types of protection and installation practices, relevant rules and regulations and on the general principles of area classification shall carry-out these tasks. The competency of the person shall be relevant to the type of work to be undertaken. Meaning, competence in design does not necessarily mean competence in installation or operation and maintenance.

Depending on the geographical location of the plant being designed or constructed, different standards apply, NFPA & API standards in US, AS/NZS in Australia & New Zealand and BS & IP in UK. IEC standards are acceptable in 83 member countries worldwide including the Philippines as a full member of the IEC. In the Philippines, the Philippine Electrical Code (PEC), a modified version of the NFPA 70 customized for the Philippine environment and work practices, is a statutory document that needs to be complied with in any electrical installation. Article 5 of the PEC encompasses hazardous areas in which hazardous area classification drawings could be based on either ANSI/API RP 505, ISA RP12.24.01, IEC 60079-10 or IP 15 whichever is applicable.

Being a Filipino, what does it take to become an Oil & Gas Electrical Practitioner? Experience and competence are two major factors in achieving this goal. Experience increases but does not necessarily connote competence. Both factors are required to become competitive in the global job market of Oil & Gas. The Philippines is still a provisional member of the Washington Accord. Full membership in this global organization will enable Philippine university graduates to become recognized in the Washington Accord member countries. Being a recognized means a lot in the global job market competition. Getting a registration as an APEC engineer can also boost chances in landing a job this highly competitive job market. Competency can also be achieved through training. Ensure, however, that the training provider is recognized by IEC or any equivalent authority the oil & gas industry. Experience and competency will increase your chances in changing your career path into the Oil & Gas industry.

Photocredit to khunaspix of freedigitalphotos.net

Guest Author: Ver Pangonilo
Author Website: https://pangonilo.com
Author Profile: A Filipino Engineer, Registered Professional Engineer of Queensland (RPEQ) – Australia, Professional Electrical Engineer (PEE) and and first placer in the April 1991 PEE Examination. More than 30+ years working experience, 20+ years in Oil & Gas. Has extensive experience in concept select/definition, front-end engineering, HV & LV detail design, construction and commissioning of Hazardous and Non-Hazardous Area electrical installations in water and waste water pipeline and pumping facilities, offshore platforms, hydrocarbon process plants and pipelines including related facilities.

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