Owning Your Work: An Interview with Rob Crena De Iongh
After almost four decades of working for one of the top five oil and gas companies, Rob Crena De Iongh has gained invaluable knowledge and expertise in the oil and gas industry. Throughout his professional career he has worked with a large variety of rotating and static equipment like pumps, compressors, gas-turbines, valves, hoses, and specific corrosion resistant alloys (CRAs).
Pump Engineer recently had the pleasure of speaking with Rob Crena De Iongh about the extensive experience he has gained from his time in this industry, the many tasks he faced as a team leader, and what he considers the most important advice a young engineer needs to hear.
700 barg hoses to connect gas-well to installation
Rob Crena De Iongh
Rob has always had a passion for working with machines and exploring the intricacies of their mechanics. Engineering was not his first choice when it came to selecting a discipline to study in school. “My original goal was to study auto-technology, but the particular school I wanted to attend was already full. So, as second choice I altered my focus to become a marine engineer. Before I knew it, I passed my degree and found myself as a marine engineer on an oil tanker in Dubai,” Rob remembered. “It was not a conscious choice—it just happened, and the five years to follow became one of the best periods of my life!”
For five years following the completion of his first degree, Rob worked on oil tankers as a marine engineer in the engine room, gaining a lot of experience with steam turbines, heavy fuel diesel engines, pumps and so on. After approximately five years, Rob changed his career from being a marine engineer to an onshore mechanic. This career change created a great opportunity to continue studying, so Rob found himself back in the classroom working towards a degree in mechanical engineering, production technology and economics. “In Dutch we call this a High Technical Grade. This study is what really helped to fulfill my dream to become a Technical Authority and Team Lead of a Rotating Equipment Engineering team.”
As Team Lead of Rotating Equipment, Rob oversees a team of approximately 10 engineers: five located in the United Kingdom, and five who reside in the Netherlands. “With this team, we are responsible for a large fleet of rotating equipment installed on a number of platforms in the southern North Sea, as well as two onshore locations where we are evacuating the gas into the Netherlands and the UK grids,” Rob explained.
Over the last 38 years, Rob has worked on a lot of projects. Rob explained.
“When producing gas it is inevitable that you will produce liquids like water and condensate in combination with sand as well. In order to dispose of this additional product, we needed to install a pumping installation designed to pump a liquid sand mix.
“If you are out on a tanker and something breaks, you cannot wait for someone to come and fix the problem. You need to deal with it yourself, starting with understanding, communication, reacting, fixing.
I like to think, ‘do not talk too much, use common sense, search for support/information if required and just do it and get it done,’ and that helps me through most of it.”
Rob Crena De Iongh
Major Pump Applications
Rob sees a wide array of pumps in his role like membrane pumps, plunger pumps, gear pumps and an enormous variety of centrifugal pumps. “If I had to pick, I would say the membrane pumps are the most intricate to work with, as they have a reasonably vulnerable system. The membranes, in combination with the oil system, including the different internal control valves, are quite vulnerable and require specific attention and maintenance,” Rob explained. Membrane pumps are typically installed for the injection of chemicals and/or transport of dangerous liquids. A positive advantage of this type of pump is that they are a fully closed system, which means no active seals are required to separate the dangerous liquids from the environment. A second important advantage of these pumps is the simple capacity to control possibilities, which is ideal for chemical injection requirements.
Pump selection is also an important aspect of Rob’s role. He continued, “If a pump needs to be changed out or a new one is required, it is my team’s responsibility to select the appropriate pump. As technical authority, I need to agree and sign off on the selected type of pump.”
When asked to share advice for new engineers entering the world of rotating equipment, Rob had a lot to share. “I want to emphasize the importance of getting your hands dirty and getting a feel for the machinery. A new engineer cannot get directly into a role of rotating equipment engineering, while expecting to know and understand the machines in the real world right away. It will take time to truly understand what the equipment does and how to approach your day to day operations,” Rob expressed.
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