Eric Kardan, MWD Engineer

I joined Baker Hughes in 2006, having recently graduated in Chemical Engineering. It had always been my ambition to work in the oil industry; I loved the idea of travelling around the world to different rigs. My brother had worked at Baker Hughes before me so I knew how the company operated; I liked what I heard.

I started my career here as Field Engineer before becoming a Rotational Field Test Engineer a couple of years ago. I’ve been responsible for the field testing and development of a wide range of tools. .

Engineers will design a tool, and then we will test it to see if it is capable of working with other tools. There are often some issues to deal with, and it’s our job to see what’s needed and whether the tool has to go back to the engineer. You’re using the same software programs from project to project so in a way the principles are the same but, of course, each tool does different measurements so I’m always coming up against something.

By far my most challenging project was MagTrak™ LWD. This tool is a relatively new innovation—about four or five years old—and gives unbelievably accurate measurements. Basically, the tool uses the same technology as MRI scanners in the medical world to measure certain formation properties. It sends constant magnetic pulses into the magnetized formation to change the excitations of atoms in that formation. The tool will measure this change in excitation and from that derives certain properties like porosity and permeability estimates in production zones. All very complex stuff, which I had to get my head around.

MagTrak technology is very complex, but I read as much as I could find on the subject and any gaps in my knowledge were overcome by talking to others who had experience with the tool. I was able to draw on the knowledge of field engineers, software engineers, and programmers, who gave presentations and training classes that proved to be invaluable in understanding how the tool operates. I think my experience of working on MagTrak LWD shows how the company is placing more and more emphasis on sharing knowledge between disciplines.

Understanding the theory behind MagTrak LWD was very challenging, but probably the biggest personal achievement of my Baker Hughes career occurred on the AutoTrak™ rotary closed-loop system project. We did what was required and saved the client two days of downtime and all the associated costs.

The people I’ve met over the last few years have all been really helpful and fun to work with. It’s also been great being able to go to different countries and experience different working environments and cultures. In just the last few months, I’ve travelled to Italy, Bahrain, UAE, and Britain. Things certainly change quickly in this business. One moment you’re working in an office in north Germany, and the next you’re sitting on a rig in the North Sea. That’s a bit of an exaggeration, of course, but at times you can be called out at two hours’ notice; at other times, you might be given two weeks, but when the day approaches, sometimes the project is pushed back. You’ve got to be prepared to take that in stride.

Everything in an oilfield can change fast. Uprooting can be difficult at times. You do need to be incredibly patient and flexible, but with hard work and the resources available, you’re more than compensated with an array of rewarding opportunities. If you’re willing to relocate, you can get on.

I think Baker Hughes has a deserved reputation for looking after its people both in terms of professional development and quality of life. I benefited hugely from the LEAD Learn Excel Achieve Develop program, and I have been on many courses which have dovetailed with the practical experience I’ve gained. I’ve been lucky that my managers have encouraged me to register for all kinds of training and to work abroad as part of my annual performance review. The courses have obviously covered technical knowledge, but also computer training and soft skills. I spent a couple of days on a sales course as everyone who has client contact effectively has a sales element to their role.

The training has definitely tied in with my career plans. Looking ahead, I might move into a field-based role in another region or move into technical support. The choices are certainly there.

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