John McTainsh work history

Title    Experience Report - John McTainsh
Synopsis    Personal report of Engineering Experience, from 1983 until February 1996
Purpose    Application to become Member of Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand
Date    Written 1996
Warning    This is very long and quite boring!


The following pages detail my engineering, experiences and achievements over the past 12 years. These can be divided into two main categories; pre-graduation and post-graduation.

Before graduating, I held positions with little or no responsibility as a general labour and draughtsman. These positions gave me an insight into the management of personnel from the subordinate point of view and a hands-on feel for engineering.

After graduation I ventured into the oil and gas industry, and until recently, I was employed on a contract basis for projects ranging from 2 weeks to 8 months. Each new position brought new challenges and responsibilities. These are listed in chronological order with brief outlines of the challenges encountered.


"Pre-graduation experience."

My first formal engineering exposure came in 1983 when I was employed by Waitaki NZR as a Fitter mate. Over 8 months I assisted in the maintenance of large motors, pumps and conveyor systems. During this period I was given several small projects to fabricate, these involved turning and welding.

At Mount Isa Mines in Australia I was involved in the design and fabrication of a 5 tonne overhead monorail crane. In addition I assisted in the refurbishment of furnaces.


"Post graduation experiences."

To enter the Oil and gas industry I took a Commercial Diving course and moved to Singapore. My first 9 months were spent working as a commercial diver for Oceaneering international, a subsea engineering company. During this time I gained invaluable experience in subsea engineering techniques and inspection methods.


Inspection coordinator, Chinese Petroleum Corporation - Taiwan.

My diving experience and engineering qualifications enabled me to attain the position of Inspection coordinator working for Divcon International in Taiwan. This position required me to coordinate the subsea inspection and maintenance program for the Chinese Petroleum Corporation .The CPC field is an extremely small field consisting of 3 satellite well heads, 2 well head platforms and one production platform in 250ft of water.

The purpose of the inspection was to ascertain the condition of the platform for DnV to their standards. On board one of the vessel was a DnV representative who oversaw my work and the data recorded.

To perform the work I was responsible for the operations of two Diving Support Vessels. One vessel supported a 4 man 24 hour Saturation diving spread and the other a Surface air diving spread and ROV . In total, 16 ships' crew and 21 diving personnel. This project cost CPC US$9,750/day for equipment and US$10,400/day in personnel charges.

My day to day duties included planning the inspection or maintenance tasks to be performed that day. Under normal circumstances the inspection and maintenance program could be completed in 14 days. However, in the Formosa Strait currents allow diving only 1 hour per 12 hour period. Typhoons are also an ever present danger forcing both vessels to return to Port for shelter on many occasions.

This project culminated in the submission of a 200 page report. This included all inspection results, conclusions and recommendations.


Inspection Engineer, Marathon Oil - Indonesia.

In September of 1990, I was contracted by Oceaneering International for the Inspection of two Production platforms, an SBM and PLEM for Marathon Oil Indonesia. Although quite similar to the project for CPC there were three major differences;
bulletFirstly, the project was bid lump sum for US$195,000. This meant to maximise profits Oceaneering would complete the project in the minimum time. This is an undesirable situation for subsea inspection contracts as it is often necessary to repeat dives to ensure readings were taken correctly. It also encouraged divers and supervisors who were on early completion bonuses to falsify readings.
bulletSecondly, Oceaneering was one of two contractors hired to perform the inspection. Oceaneering would supply the Diving Support Vessel, Inspection personnel and ROV. The diving services had been awarded to a local company. Coordinating inspection data from two independent companies posed some organisational problem. This was overcome with daily project meetings and clear lines of authority.
bulletThirdly the environmental conditions were excellent. Dead calm water and 200ft visibility meant operations could continue 24 a hours day. The entire inspection was completed in 5 days. During this time, the Data recorder and I had to collate and interpret hundreds of CP readings, UT readings, Anode surveys and Visual inspection data.

These differences produced a much more challenging project. Preparation for the project took 2 weeks detailing every task prior to mobilization of the equipment. On site computerised recording of data enabled discrepancies to be located quickly. In some instances a reading could be repeated before the original diver had cleared the decompression chamber.

Much of the post processing of the data was completed offshore, however the compilation of final reports and diagrams took a further 2 week.


Report Coordinator, Total Indonesie - Singapore.

A few days after submitting the Marathon report, Oceaneering contracted me to complete an inspection report for a contract which the engineer had not completed. This project involved investigation of 38 three hour video tapes and handwritten notes on the inspection of 14 platforms for Total Indonesie.

The work took 6 weeks to complete collating video information with logs and recorded data into tables and diagrams. The contract required creating 3D images of the platforms with the appropriate data located on the images. This was done using AutoCAD. Finally conclusions and recommendations were made based on the inspection information.


Design Engineer, Oceaneering - Singapore

For several months after these inspection projects I remained with Oceaneering designing equipment installations on various Diving support vessels and Drilling Rigs. Two of these were of particular interest;
bulletThe first of these involved the installation of a 56 tonne Saturation diving system onto the 48m Diving Support Vessel, the Pacific Teak. Due to the extremely small size of the vessel the Saturation diving system required extensive modification to enable safe launch and recovery of the bell. I was requested to modify the existing system as necessary. Working with four fitters and two welders I was able to modify the system to fit the vessel. The modification took 5 weeks. Mobilization of the system on the vessel was completed in less than 18 hours.
bulletThe second interesting project involved the mobilization of a roll-over-bell bounce system on the Semi-submersible Drillship, the Atwood Eagle. The area available on board the vessel was extensive but the launch area for the bell had both height and length restrictions and required a Zone II rating. To meet this requirement AutoCAD was used to test various spacial arrangements. I then had to design a man-rated trolley and 'A' frame to move and roll the bell over the moon pool. With the system mobilized and the rig on location I performed the first gas dive to 280ft and locked out of the bell for 15 minutes. "A good test of my confidence in the design".


Inspection Engineer, Petronas Caragali - Malaysia.

My biggest inspection project to date was the inspection of 5 platforms by Oceaneering International, for Petronas Carigali off the coast of Kuala Trengganu, Malaysia. The client required the inspection to meet DnV requirements. DnV requirements detailed the information they required but not the inspection process. I was required to write procedures for each step of the inspection process which were subsequently approved by the DnV surveyors.

Inspection included MPI of nodes, CP surveys, detailed anode inspections, UT measurements, Marine fouling measurements and removal. The entire structure of each platform was inspected including, Structure, Risers, Anodes, Conductors, Caissons, Boat landings and pile guides.

To perform the work, the Crane barge Patmar was mobilized with support vessel Pacific Beagle. On the Patmar was a 6 man saturations diving system, 2 surface air diving spreads and one utility class ROV system. The cost of the operations was US$29,000 per day.

The offshore section of the project took 53 days to complete during. During this period I was responsible for the inspection process and data recording. Day-to-day data was recorded on PCs and photographs developed on side. I compiled the final inspection report in 15 days which was subsequently accepted by the client and DnV.


Project Coordinator, Shell Eastern Petroleum - Singapore.

In August of 1991, Asiatic Underwater Contractors was hired as the prime contractor by Bectel for Shell Eastern Petroleum. The US$6,000,000 contract was to repair the fibre optic cable attached to a pipeline bundle from Pulau Ular to Singapore Mainland. The project was divided into the following sections;
bulletSurvey of the existing cable and pipeline bundle using sidescan sonar and ROV. I was responsible for recording ROV inspection data and collating it into a report for the client.
bulletCutting a 2m deep trench and laying the fibre optic cable in the trench from Pulau Ular to Cyrene reef. The 2.5km trench took 60 days to cut in water depth down to 120ft. During this phase of the project, it was my responsibility to oversee the subcontracted trenching barge to ensure operations were conducted as contracted.
bulletExcavation and recovery of the existing cable and splicing in the new cable. I was again the client representative on the subcontractors vessel overseeing the dredging operation.
bulletBackfill of the entire path and post survey. I supervised the back fill operations and compiled the final project completion report for the client.

During the entire project I was assistant to the Project engineer, who was a veteran with 25 years offshore construction experience but no formal engineering education. He allowed me to tackle sections of the project alone and provided me with a wealth of experience in the subsea construction field.

For a period after this project, I was absent from engineering. During this time I performed the duties of a surveyor on an ancient porcelain recovery exhibition.


Design Engineer, Techno Transfer - Singapore.

I was contracted by Techno-Transfer to assist in the design of the first work class ROV to be manufactured in South East Asia, the Sealion MkII. During the design and manufacture of the first unit, I was responsible for the spacial arrangement, structural design and buoyancy control. This involved the use of AutoCAD to produce a 3D model of the vehicle to determine points of structural interference and buoyant characteristics.

Being responsible for the structural design of the frame and launch system, I was required to produce stress calculation for the frame, lift winch and recovery system to meet Lloyds rules for Lifting Appliances in a marine environment. Taking 6 months to design and fabricate, the first unit valued at US$2,200,000 was commissioned in October 1992.


Head of laboratory, MW Offshore Gauges - Singapore.

Leaving the offshore industry for a period, I joined a newly founded company calibrating pressure gauges. With a staff of 5, I was entrusted to conduct day to day running of the pressure laboratory and to gain certification for the laboratory under the Singapore Laboratory Accreditation Scheme (SINGLAS). This required writing of procedures, implementing new processes and manufacture of equipment to meet the ISO guide 25. I gained accreditation for the MW Offshore Gauges, making it the smallest certified calibration laboratory in Singapore. The certification involved several audits from the Singapore Institute of Standards and Industrial Research (SISIR).


Design Engineer/QA Manager, AUC/TTI - Singapore (Current position)

Returning to the Oil and Gas industry in June 1993, I was contracted by Asiatic Underwater Contractors to develop a Quality Management System to meet the requirements of ISO9002. In conjunction with this position I was to assist the current design department which lacked a material strength calculation function.

The implementation of ISO9002 involved documenting every facet of ROV, operations, maintenance and logistical support. The process of educating offshore personnel in the processes and documentation proved to be extremely challenging. The procedure for importation of spares and circulating information to 12 ROV systems in locations as diverse as offshore Yemen and Wenzhou China, required many diverse and detailed procedures.

As a member of the Sealion ROV design team, I was required to continue the calculations executed in my previous contract with TTI for the new developments added to the vehicle. These included upgrading the hydraulic power unit to 100hp, increase the vehicle thru-frame lift to 5 tonne and increase the vehicle depth rating to 2,000msw . I was also responsible for the development of current handling models to improve the vehicle excursions for the launch point.

In an effort to improve the ROVs' current handling capabilities, the Sealion ROV's four thrusters were rearranged at 45 to the vehicles preferred direction. This allowed all four thrusters to be operated at full when the vehicle went forward. This would give a forward thrust increase of 41%. In order to achieve this the existing CPU control code had to be modified to perform the maths necessary for the vehicle to fly straight and auto heading functions to respond correctly. I was responsible for the modification of the existing Z80 code to implement the changes so that no modification was necessary in the topside control system for both vectored and normal thruster configuration.

In mid 1994, I was authorised to develop a much smaller eyeball or observation class ROV, the Sea Surveyor. This would support a camera on Pan & Tilt frame, a colour imaging sonar and have several digital and analog inputs and outputs to support survey sensors such as CP meters. I selected the low cost Motorola 68HC11 microprocessor for the topside and vehicle control computers. This single chip computer allowed sufficient I/O capabilities and contained all required telemetry functions for communications between the two computers. I oversaw the electronic design and wrote the code for the vehicle with extensive in-water and bench testing. At present 2 units are in operation and 3 more in production. The complete unit sale price is quoted at US$173,000 with launch and recovery system.

Recently I was promoted to Electrical Engineering Manager. The responsibilities include management of new development projects and production scheduling of existing designs. All electrical design is performed by engineers which I am required to oversee. I must ensure developments are completed on schedule and meet the clients requirements. Production of electrical subsystems must be scheduled to match mechanical output and to minimise costs.

Since I joined Techno-Transfer Industries and Asiatic Underwater Contractors. I have completed several interesting development projects. This position is both challenging and rewarding in as much as I gain more experience in the fields of management and Engineering in every passing day.



The majority of my engineering experience has been in the oil and gas industry. Working as a freelance engineer has allowed me to fulfil many distinct roles. Diverse as the industry is, I have had the opportunity to participate in the Exploration, Construction and Production fields, thus giving me invaluable engineering experience.

I would add that being in the Asian region has disadvantaged me in that I have not been under the direct supervision of any one senior engineer. However, I have had the opportunity to work with very experienced engineers from several industries. As the Asian oil and gas industry is desperate for trained engineers, I have been fortunate enough to attain positions of responsibility that would not otherwise be open to a person of my experience. This coupled with the cultural and environmental differences of the region has given me an excellent engineering background.


Last updated 02 January, 2004 11:29