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Hani Baluch

Hani is a petroleum engineer at BP, currently based in Moscow. She joined BP as a graduate in September 2010 after gaining a degree in chemical engineering from Imperial College London

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, London. I also spent a year abroad at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, US, as part of an exchage programme. 


“As I became more exposed to the industry, what really appealed to me was the ability to have a direct impact on improving livelihoods. I was attracted to the idea of working in a challenging environment but with a purpose.”

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, to the largest gas field in the US, located in the Texas Panhandle and to West Siberia in Russia. I have predominantly worked in oil fields in the North Sea, solving engineering problems and ensuring that effective collaboration happens to tackle challenges involving multiple technical disciplines. I am currently working as a petroleum engineer for BP Russia in a joint technical team with Rosneft. The team is identifying opportunities to reinvigorate a mature oil field and maximise value.


My career highlights so far

I'm keen to dispel the misconceptions that the energy industry is old-fashioned and lacks innovation. In just the past few years alone, there has been an incredible amount of change and evolution of digital strategies, especially at BP. 


My proudest achievement so far has been developing a new digital tool for BP called Argus, which replaced BP’s multiple petroleum engineering interfaces with a single global platform. The tool improved well understanding, empowering engineers to make faster operational, data-driven decisions about wells and reservoirs. It is now used by all the petroleum engineers across BP. 


When I joined the team, I was very junior, but I think it is a testament to BP’s inclusive culture that the project team took a chance on me and allowed me to make a real contribution. “Now, when I walk around and see other petroleum engineers using a tool I played a large role in developing, it’s an extremely fulfilling feeling. At BP,  you’re given space, freedom, opportunity and are equipped with tools that set you up for success. I would not have been involved in the technology project if someone hadn't decided to take a risk on me and I’m very grateful that they did!”


What keeps Hani at BP?

It's not just the opportunity to be at the forefront of technological innovation that is exciting, it's also the variety of work I've been offered. “That is another cool thing about this industry. You have a lot of opportunity to work on different things, which are constantly evolving. The job never becomes boring. In our industry there is so much change happening at immense pace, and it is really interesting to be part of that wave.”


Throughout my time at BP, I have tried to stay true to my initial goal of making a difference to people’s lives: “For me BP is not just an energy company, it strives to respect human rights and the natural environment, and these are values of great importance to me.”


Ultimately, it is these values that really tip the scales: “My colleagues and teammates at BP have created a unique work culture which is supportive and very open. I am proud to work in an environment that is welcoming, fulfilling and enjoyable, as well as working for a company that shows real commitment to driving strategic changes.”


Why is engineering a great career for young women 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 energy industry but can say I have never felt at a disadvantage during my time at BP, because of the focus on inclusion. Yes, the energy 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.


Having worked in the industry for nearly a decade and had such a varied career in a relatively short period, I want to continue to level the playing field by encouraging more people into STEM subjects and exciting careers in the energy industry. It’s extremely important for me to demonstrate that no matter your background, if you have a great work ethic, you can succeed – and across the industry we will only continue to improve by pushing diversity at all levels.