Hani Baluch

Hani is a petroleum engineer for the Clair Ridge project in the North Sea, one of BP’s major projects due to start production in 2018

Why I chose engineering

My interest in chemical engineering was sparked by my experience of the modern day Gulf War and its implications on society. It instigated my fascination with how oil is involved in many different aspects of our lives and led me to pursue a degree in chemical engineering (MEng) at Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine. I also spent a year abroad at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, USA, as part of my degree.

My interest in petroleum engineering stems from the same innate desire which drove my choice of engineering as a degree – interpreting huge volumes of data in order to get to the root of a problem and drive solutions. BP has an established reputation as a pioneer especially with technology, in particular for its capability to challenge conventional norms and develop completely novel and bespoke methods to analyse the dynamic challenges faced in the Upstream business.

What I do now

After graduating, I joined BP as a petroleum engineer and have had a variety of roles, which have taken me offshore to the West of Shetland and to the largest gas field in the USA, located in the Texas Panhandle. I am currently working as an petroleum engineer for the Clair Ridge project, which is one of BP’s major projects due to start production in 2018. I am responsible for solving engineering problems, and ensuring that effective collaboration happens to solve challenges involving multiple technical disciplines.

My career highlight so far

Having the opportunity to work in frontline operational roles offshore on Foinaven (a floating production, storage and offloading vessel) and for mature onshore gas fields in the Texas Panhandle. Obtaining this experience very early on in my career provided me with a strong foundation to continual develop in challenging and dynamic roles.

I have had the opportunity to work on an array of projects to stretch my technical capabilities and have a passion for adopting and progressing technology to improve efficiency. I had to learn at pace about new technology working across the global business and technology centres, fostering collaboration to ensure value in an environment of lower oil price.

Throughout my six years at BP, I have received unparalleled support and mentoring to mature as a competent petroleum engineer.

What I like best about my job 

Having the freedom to succeed in my role – making value adding changes. It is very satisfying for me to see the direct results of my work manifest on well stability and production figures. I also appreciate the opportunity to work with multifunctional teams within which there are varying degrees of experience.

My work demands me to quickly understand a wide range of technical issues, adapt in a very dynamic environment, and facilitate communication across technical and business boundaries. I find this truly rewarding as I have the opportunity to constantly learn and broaden my experiences (there are no dull days!).

Why is engineering a great career for females to consider?

I genuinely feel there are no barriers or restrictions for women progressing in this industry. I think there is a general stigma associated with women in the oil and gas industry but can say I have never felt at a disadvantage during my time at BP. Yes, the oil and gas industry does have a higher proportion of males to females, but if we do not encourage young women to pursue careers in science and engineering, this will never change! If you have a keen interest, I would suggest trying to get work experience and internships to better understand the set-up of the industry and get a flavour of the different disciplines.