“It gives me a bit more confidence”, says Wood graduate Sebastian Eunson, “working for a company that is investing in different industries”.
Since beginning his studies at Aberdeen University in 2014, he has already seen two devastating downturns for the oil and gas sector.
Enough, then, to give a petroleum engineering student pause for thought about career prospects in a fossil fuels industry.
“I even saw that at university,” Eunson said. “The year below me had fewer than half as many students as my year and the year above.
“In our society we do still need these skills, and it is today still very relevant, but I think it is a declining industry.”
The Orkney-raised graduate, now 35, spent years travelling the world before landing his first job in the industry with Aberdeen-based North Star Shipping, spending a year on an emergency response and rescue vessel.
After some Opito open learning courses, he joined Baker Hughes as the last downturn struck, which led to Eunson heading off to Aberdeen University.
“When I left work to go and study I had been working in the oil industry and I thought that would be the route to take, he said.
“It wasn’t until I went to university and started learning more about sustainability issues that I became more interested. I took a class on sustainability, started reading about it, going to a few events.
“That made me think a bit more about not just energy, but things like materials, sustainability, issues we’re going to face in the future.
“So I just thought, especially now with the oil industry, even in my relatively short career I’ve already been through two downturns so it’s not the most stable industry to work in.
“I think it makes a bit of sense to move towards renewables, especially with all the environmental issues as well.”
That’s the direction he’s hoping to go with Aberdeen-headquartered Wood, which is doing something of a transition of its own.
Once a 90% oil firm, revenues from the sector accounted for just a third of its business as of last year, according to chief executive Robin Watson.
Eunson has been with the company for two years, having been hired out of university to work on an “offshore first” for renewables.
The Ithaca Energy-operated Jacky installation was last year installed with an “energy pod”, fully powering it with wind and solar energy as it heads for decommissioning.
Wood, including Eunson, worked with Netherlands-based Amphibious Energy on the scheme, completed in August last year.
That gave him a “good first taster” of the renewables projects in his path, and he also worked on automation systems for Wood clients and is now in a maintenance role offshore.
Even in the last year, discussion of the energy transition possibilities has picked up, he said, as oil majors like BP and Total make headlines by taking up offshore wind acreage in the UK.
“I’m just reading in the news now about the operators getting more involved with investing in renewable energy, so that’s going to accelerate things even more,” he said.
“Wood will be providing services to these companies so when they start taking on big renewable energy projects it will only flow down the chain.
“We’re getting into the energy transition now so I am hoping to move into renewable energy at some point. That’s one of my long-term goals.
“Working at Wood, they’re in a good position, they’ve already got people working in renewables.
“They’re involved in big renewable projects in the US, they’ve got their renewables office down in Glasgow, so the skills and experience are in the company.”
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