Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Love for Saltwater

Despite my love for the academic (note: the academic, not educating) and the spirit to continue my research in PhD level, I had a second thought. 

This second thought I had was sometime few weeks back when I was fixing the production pipeline for my high temperature gas reactor. As I was sitting with my back leaning against the high wall of the newly-acquired laboratory and my hands were busy applying PTFE tape on some valve and pipe connections, it occurred to me just how wonderful it was during my days back in Malaysia Marine & Heavy Engineering, or simply MMHE.

I was assigned to two different departments but still under the same wing division that is Engineering & Construction (E&C). On the first day, I was given a set of top jacket and pant of matching color, a safety goggle, a safety cling-lock belt and a pair of safety boot. 

For the first four months I spent my days in the Commercial Estimation Department, specifically in Mechanical & Piping Disciplines. My daily work revolved around checking P&ID, suppliers' quotations, Material Take-Offs (MTO) and reviewing PDMS drawings and meeting people, among every other job. I was kind of disliking it, since I have to work in an air-conditioned environment so I have to drink a lot, and God knows how much coffee I had in that four months. The office was located at the highest floor of the three-story building, and there was this balcony where I usually spent my morning with a stick of cigarette and a mug of coffee, enjoying the scenery overlooking the enormous fabrication yards and dry docks. Usually there will be one mat salleh accompanying, who also happened to be the boss of the Commercial Bidding Department next door. A nice guy, really. 

KIKEH FPSO - the common sight seen from the balcony back then

During that period of four months I have been involved with a range of projects from variety of major companies. I have dealt with some rejuvenation projects at SSB platforms, ExxonMobil's Jerneh Development Project, PETRONAS's Puteri Cluster Project, Exmar's semi-submersible repair project and some related others like Abu Cluster and KIKEH. The work hour was 8.00am to 5.00pm but I usually stayed back until 8.00pm or further, and one time up till 3.30am in the morning to prepare the submission document to Petronas that has to reach the lobby of the Twin Tower by 8.00am on the same day. It was hell, really, but I soon began to like it. 

I sort of like hellish situation.

For the following four months I was reassigned into the Angel Gas Project, a Project Management Team (PMT) based construction and fabrication project. With Woodside Australia being our client, we were to build a topside (the engineering term for the platform complex) within the given time frame. And again I was assigned to the Piping Discipline, but this time it was different. This time I dealt with real engineering world. 

And so my used-to-be-so-clean uniform started changing color. There were oil stains, dirt, metal chips, welding ash, mud and other things, and I started to smell like a damn dried fish. I no longer stayed long in the office; I had to run around to the warehouse to check for materials, bring with myself forms, drawings and other documents to the fabrication yard, handled client and contractor meeting, and more. I usually stayed at work from 8.00am until 11.00pm everyday, and sometimes more. 

Why would I be spending so much time at work? Because I like it. 

I like the smell of saltwater lingering in the air, and the smell of burning metal after undergoing acetylene cut. I like the smell of rotting steel, the smell of thick grease and heavy oil in the air. I like the sea more than ever. The sight of faraway land across the Tebrau Channel - Singapore - made my day. That piece of flat land appeared adorable in the morning, in the afternoon, and at night. It appeared lovely during foggy morning and rainy evening. I usually went to the shore at the shiplift facility at the end of the yard and opened my jacket and sat there on the shoreline rocks enjoying a can or two of chilled coke while admiring the sunset from 6.00pm till 7.00pm every damn day. It was nice, really.

At night usually they did the dry-docking procedures. Sometimes when a ship needed a touch-up or a makeover, it was brought into the huge dry dock for marine repair works. The docking and tie-in jobs were done at night for the water line was stable and calmer, and because the work itself was pretty damn dangerous. Had yourself a snapped metal cable the size of your arm flying at you, and that's it - you're a dead man. But the most pleasant sight of all was when the ship entered (or left) the dry dock with gallant lightings and majestic horn.  It was very beautiful. 

My favorite Puteri Firus that docked twice in MMHE during my time

All in all, I missed the applied engineering world, best described as the heavy fabrication and construction industry. With my masters completing, I am now looking forward to be absorbed back into this lovely field of mine and I soon will be meddling back in oil and sweats again. 

Oh the love. Please someone bring me back there?

p/s: I am currently applying for ME/Piping job.

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