Mike Dupré has been involved in numerous major subsea projects for Shell, including the record-breaking Perdido development, 200 miles off US Gulf coast.
“We spend four to five years de-signing and planning a job and then up to a year offshore constructing. My job is in the office right now because we’re in a design phase. Then I’ll transition to an offshore installation vessel for extended periods during the actual execution of the work. I get to work in both environments, but there’s plenty of flexibility and some specialists choose one or the other.
“You’re usually based somewhere with a high concentration of oilfield technology sources, like Houston or Aberdeen, but your project could be anywhere and your equipment could be sourced from anywhere, so you have to travel quite a bit.
“We get to see the full spectrum of activity, from initial design to operation. Time in the office is more creative because you have lots of resources around you- really smart folks to draw ideas from and bounce ideas off. But the time offshore is more rewarding, because you actually see the thing you designed getting built and installed on the seafloor.
“The experience of being offshore varies. You could be on a large heavy-lift vessel with 300 people living on board, like a small city, or on a sham boat with a much more maritime feel. You could be close to shore, in sight of vessels and other platforms. Or you could be 200 miles offshore, where a lot of deep-water activity is taking place now in the Gulf of Mexico. When there are no lights anywhere on the horizon … that really feels a long way out.”