Taranaki challenges

New general manager looks forward to the Taranaki challenges

S (STOS) has been an established company in Taranaki since the Kapuni field was first commissioned during the late 1950s.

Despite the organization having this stable relationship with the province it does not mean that the “hand on the helm” has remained constant as the policy of the company has been for the post of general manager to be filled as an assignment for a number of Shell International personnel.

Consequently when Renny Snell completed his term in New Zealand earlier this month he was replaced, as general manager, by another man of international experience in the oil and gas industry.

Mahdi Hasan brings with him a wealth of managerial skills from a multitude of facets within the industry.

Even his own background is cosmopolitan. He was born in India, educated in Pakistan, gained citizenship in Britain and he has daughters living in Scotland. Upon further investigation there is a certain amount of logic behind this trail leading to this present posting.

Mr. Hasan was born just outside Bombay prior to the partition of India and the family decided to move to Pakistan once that country had been established.

He was a young man at the time. He continued his education in Pakistan until he reached university age at which point he left for England and gained a degree in mechanical engineering at Loughborough University of Technology.

Following his graduation in 1964, Mr. Hasan returned to Pakistan.  From that point he began a long and distinguished connection with the oil and gas industry.

Eleven years with the Sui Transmission Company, managed by the Old Burma Oil Company, gave Mr. Hasan a good grounding in on-land transmission systems.

Circumstances took Mr.Hasan back to the United Kingdom where he worked as a design consultant on development projects before being contracted to ARAMCO on the Persian Gulf oil fields.

After four years in the Gulf, Mr. Hasan accepted an appointment with Shell UK, in 1980 as chief engineer on project work. He was based at Lowestoft in south-east England, for the southern North Sea field.

In 1984 another job as a project engineer took Mr. Hasan to London for the Tern project and development  of a field to the north-west of the Brent field.

One year before the project’s completion, in 1989, Mr. Hasan was again on the move. This time it was to the massive Draugen project and a totally different set of challenges.

“There was no infrastructure for project development,” he recalls. “I started with a clean sheet of paper.”

Mr. Hasan admitted that this proved to be “a good education” (having to create something new) as it was a significant venture costing in the vicinity of venture of $US2 billion.

The experience provided unique opportunities for the Project team who managed to have the field operational within the envisaged time-scale, despite a similar platform failing under test.

The design and suitability of the concrete structure was brought under question at this failure, which had occurred under deep-sea testing conditions. The questioning of existing practice had to be incorporated into a programme that remained on schedule and budget.

Having worked on these large, exciting developments, does not mean that the Maui/Kapuni field lack a challenge for a man who has carried out such intense project development work.

“The magnitude of the project does not change standards,” he stated. “Maui is very significant to New Zealand as a source of energy.”

“The technical challenges involving safety and the environment are still the same,” he added.

Mr.Hasan will, no doubt, find the latest challenge of extracting oil from the Maui B field very interesting. It is estimated that up to 28 million barrels of oil is contained in this lobe of the southern part of the Maui B field.

This accumulation should be tapped but the Mau B structure was designed as a gas platform. Therefore, Mr. Hasan stresses, before the addition of further services for the handling of liquids, all safety standards must be adhered to.

“The structure must retain technical integrity,” he said, adding that the company’s own credibility would come under question if it is allowed pressure to alter its own standards.

Safety is a major issue with Mr. Hasan, whether it be the structural integrity of a platform or the work habits of a single employee.

“It is possible to create an environment where accidents should not happen,” he stated.

Mr.Hasan would not be drawn into discussing the recent training mishap suffered by the company, which cost two employees their lives, as the matter is still under internal and official investigation.

Despite the sad loss of the men, he does not believe that the incidents should be treated in insolation. Any accident at STOs which results in a “near-miss incident’ report being filed is also investigated thoroughly as in different circumstances that, too, may have resulted in injury or death.

The company provides “procedure guides” which are reviewed regularly. Mr.Hasan knows that the company employees are very professional in their approach to their work and the workplace; it is these people who form an integral part of the company’s safety policies.

“Big inroads made into safety management come from the people themselves. People who live with it are the best to judge,” he said. “They understand and know the answers.”

Mr. Hasan intends to encourage staff into a greater input.

“This is a resource I really want to tap.”

Apart from the work at Shell Todd, Mr. Hasan is looking forward to his stay in Taranaki. He is very impressed with the people and the facilities that the province has to offer.

During his university days he played hockey and a bit of tennis, and not surprisingly, he was also an active cricketer.

Mr. Hasan claims to be being middle-order batsman capable of “swinging the arm a little bit.”He also concedes that he did not turn the ball like Bedi, the Indian spin bowler, or have the pace of Younis, the Pakistani speedster. “Gentle medium pacers” were more in his line.

Thirteen years ago Mr.Hasan took up playing golf and this is a game he now talks about with great passion.

“I wish I had taken it up as a youngster,” he laughs. “It makes a great extension to my cover drive.”Despite this love of the game he is forced to concede that his game is better described as “notorious” rather than “majestic.”

Mr. Hasan’s wife, Shamima, will be with him during his Taranaki assignment. She was scheduled to arrive in New Plymouth yesterday following a stopover in Pakistan.

The couple have two daughters who are presently living in Scotland. Batool, the eldest, is married and is working for a community care organization known as “Crossroads,” while Amena is in her second year at Glasgow University where she is taking psychology and social science.

Mr. Hasan is hoping that Amena will join him and his wife at Easter so that she too can experience the pleasures of Taranaki.

Courtesy: Taranaki Daily News, January 1994