My Experiences as a Maintenance Engineer on the Mittelplate

My Experiences as a Maintenance Engineer on the Mittelplate

December 16, 2019

Since 2014 I have been working as a maintenance engineer for Yokogawa. Twice a year, I’m on my way to Mittelplate, the most important German oil field in the Wadden Sea.

For me, the journey is connected with special precautions: Every two years, a health check-up must be successfully passed offshore. As part of the complex health examination, an eye test, a sound threshold audiometry (hearing test), blood and urine samples, an ECG and a status check of the teeth are carried out. Anyone who has a toothache or needs new fillings should have them treated in advance.

In addition, you also have to complete a BOSIET training every four years. This is special offshore training which I like to call Adventure Training. You learn e.g. how to build a life raft, how to behave in open water and how to organize yourself as a group in an emergency. Fire drills teach you how to practically extinguish ignition sources and how to tackle tactical fire fighting. A special challenge is the orientation container: Here you are in a completely darkened container, wearing a respirator mask and have to make your way out virtually blind. That sounds pretty exciting, doesn’t it?

A completed first aid course, which is refreshed at regular intervals, is of course also mandatory.

Preparations

In advance, I think about which materials I need for my maintenance assignment in the analysis house. Larger materials are transported to Mittelplate by a transport ship, which of course has to be planned a few days in advance. I pack smaller materials such as filters in my “hand luggage”, i.e. a duffel bag and my laptop bag.

Arriving in Cuxhaven, the journey continues by boat to Mittelplate, which departs twice a day. Depending on the weather and the tide, the crossing will take 45 minutes. In difficult weather, however, it can take up to two hours before you arrive at Mittelplate, which is located on a sandbank in the Wadden Sea. Therefore, I plan at least two days for the maintenance, including one overnight stay on the drilling and production rig.

The island is calling!

Mittelplate Luft

My working day usually begins at seven in the morning and ends at seven in the evening. It is a long but highly varied day.

To check in on the ship, an extensive security check is carried out, which you may know from the airport. With the help of a scanner, one is checked for suspicious objects.

Meanwhile, I am almost an old hand, because my first assignment as a maintenance engineer at Mittelplate was in 2016, i.e. three years ago. I still remember exactly how excited I was when I made my first trip to Mittelplate. The moment when you look across the expanse of the Wadden Sea and see Mittelplate – simply gigantic.

Due to the special conditions, the island is really something special.

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“You go up, you roll down!”

Mittelplate Übersicht

In the crew jargon the saying “You go up, you roll down” is very common. This refers to the excellent catering on Mittelplate. Whether breakfast, lunch, dinner or coffee and cake in between – the full board is first-class and can compete with any good hotel. As Mittelplate is built like a small town of its own, it also has its own fitness studio, sauna and recreation room. These leisure activities are excellent.

At the same time, it is very easy to lose orientation and get lost on the rig. Everything is very angled and there are countless stairs.

My tasks as a maintenance engineer

The project I am supervising at Mittelplate is very special and thrilling for me. On the one hand, the challenge lies in the spatial narrowness, on the other hand, there are only generalists on site. For me, this means that if a problem occurs on-site, I usually have to solve it remotely in cooperation with the staff. Sometimes you have to improvise and explain things differently than usual. But why not? After all, “Co-Innovating tomorrow” is our mission and where else should we go new, innovative ways than with our customers?

The system will be extended by additional measuring points. Our customer, Wintershall Dea, has very high safety standards and has been producing crude oil on Mittelplate safely and trouble-free for more than thirty years. Continuous measurements are very important and with our precise measuring instruments it was even possible to achieve measurement results that were 10,000 times better than before. This is an immense success and we are very proud of it.


Picture credits: Wintershall Dea

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