Helicopter flying above Shell’s Prelude facility

Caitlin Mitchell studied with a Masters of Electrical Engineering at University of Western Australia in 2015, and is now a Graduate Electrical Engineer at Shell.

Before I can even start my first day of shift on Shell’s Prelude facility I have to get here! Located in the Browse Basin 200km offshore, getting to work means I need to take a flight from Perth to Broome and then a 2.5hr helicopter flight offshore. I then do 3weeks of 12hr shifts before having 3weeks off.

5.20 AM: Alarm goes off. I don’t like getting up early so I set my alarm as late as possible….I have ten minutes to get dressed and leave my room on the accommodation vessel.

Gangway connector prelude facility

5.30 AM: Time to cross the gangway which connects the accommodation vessel to Prelude while we are commissioning the facility.

6.00 AM: Morning pre-start meeting with our contractor electrical team and any vendors currently on site to discuss the work for the day, which permits are available and safety messages to be aware of. We also review the 3-week look ahead schedule to see how we are tracking against the plan and which areas might need to be expedited.

6.30 AM: I now have a chance to boot up my laptop, check my emails for the day, and respond to any I didn’t get to yesterday!

7.00 AM: Time to head down to the permit office and get out the permits required this morning. Today I will be working with the ABB vendor to replace relays in the Low Voltage Switchboard. Only problem is today’s switchboard is located in the forward section of Prelude……a 470m walk down the vessel in the hot, humid conditions!

Prelude Vessel

9.00 AM: Time for morning smoko (and no I don’t know why its called ‘smoko’)

9.30 AM: Back down to the forward area to continue removing the existing relays which are causing issues due to their sensitivity to harmonics. We then test the new relays and install them into the module.

10.15 AM: Called to the control room. We have had a trip on one of our three Essential Diesel Generators which are currently powering the facility. We are in the middle of a steam shutdown so the Steam Turbine Generators are out of action. I head to the ENMCS (Electrical Network Monitoring Control System) with my colleagues to review the alarm list and start troubleshooting.

12.00 PM: Lunchtime!

Caitlin Mitchell

1.00 PM: Back to troubleshooting the issue on the generator. It looks like we may have some faulty communication modules.

3.00 PM: Call with Siemens Germany to provide technical assistance on the generator trip. We are having issues with the machine no longer being controlled by the PMS (Power Management System) which resulted in the trip.

5.30 PM: Daily commissioning meeting where all disciplines report on the activities for the day. This is a great chance to gain a wider knowledge of the other work scopes and also be aware of which activities may affect my tasks for tomorrow.

6.00 PM: Time for a quick dinner.

Sunset view at sea

6.30 PM: One of my favourite parts of the day. I head up to the heli deck for the stretch and strength class- talk about fantastic views of the sunset!

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