The industry through MPK’s eyes

people, team, helmet

As part of the People in Pipelines feature, The Australian Pipeliner spoke with MPK’s team in the Surat Basin CSG fields, Queensland, to gain an insight into how the industry has changed for them and where they see the industry placed in the future. 

Name: Cathy Carragher
Role: Plant and Maintenance Lead
Years in Industry: 15

Plant and Maintenance Lead Cathy Carragher.
Plant and Maintenance Lead Cathy Carragher.

Most of my industry career has been spent in plant and maintenance roles, originally in civil construction and plant hire companies, but since 2013, I have been with MPK in the Surat Basin.

I have witnessed a lot of changes in this time, particularly the shift from paper-based processes to the digital online tools we use today. I believe this advancement has made the discipline I work in far more effective by ensuring we’re continually compliant, our maintenance monitoring is more accurate, and our reporting more informative and timely, and ultimately more beneficial to MPK and its clients.

We have 700 items in our fleet, which all require a comprehensive maintenance schedule, so it is imperative we have the correct systems in place to ensure we keep on top of it. In recent years, ‘Safer Together’ has become a large focus for our plant and maintenance team, with 90 of our 700 maintained assets needing to fully comply with new Safer Together requirements.

Chain of Responsibility (COR) has also become a large focus within plant and maintenance, as our team arranges the external transport for initial mobilisation and demobilisation. To ensure we have a better understanding of our roles and responsibilities, we have run our team through COR courses, and I think these courses have been highly beneficial, as they’ve enabled our experienced and qualified personnel, MPK as a business, and our Project as a whole, to develop a culture of “future thinking”.

Name: Scott Bourne
Role: Senior Project Engineer
Years in Industry: 9

Senior Project Engineer Scott Bourne.
Senior Project Engineer Scott Bourne.

I started my career in 2013 as a Graduate Engineer with MPK and have spent most of my working life on projects across the Surat Basin CSG fields. In this time, I’ve been presented with some great opportunities and have been fortunate enough to have worked with one of the leading LNG pipeline companies in Australia, and also gained an immense amount of knowledge from some of the best likeminded and highly experienced engineers and pipeliners in the industry. 

Now, as a Senior Project Engineer, and thanks to the mentorship I’ve received by peers over the years, I’m tackling the day-to-day challenges of running a pipeline construction project. While the elevation through the company ranks has been great, I’m always conscious of ensuring I provide our new graduate engineers with the same support I received when entering the industry. I think it’s important to do that, as over the last few years I’ve witnessed an ever-growing need for engineers and have seen first-hand the integral part they play in making large-scale projects successful. What I like about MPK and our industry in general, is our engineers aren’t pidgeon-holed and are able to become familiar with every stage of the project from design through to handover, which means they can develop a solid understanding of all the works involved in a project. It’s a winning formula and not only makes engineers valuable assets for companies, but also ensures there is a clear pathway for career progression into senior engineering and management roles.

Name: Cameron Holland
Role: Supervisor
Years in Industry: 17

Supervisor Cameron Holland.
Supervisor Cameron Holland.

I’ve spent most of my working life within the oil and gas industry and for the for past seven of those with MPK as a supervisor. I’m a proud Aboriginal man and was recently asked to join an MPK working group of other Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and non-indigenous employees to help develop the company’s reconciliation action plan.  

It’s been an honour to be part of this reconciliation initiative and play a part in the development of a plan that will guide MPK in its positive engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees and communities. The main goal of our plan is to increase the level of workforce awareness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and traditions, increase the opportunity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People to gain employment and training with MPK, and for MPK to increase its use of businesses owned and operated by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesspeople.

We’ve already run a few initiatives to raise awareness of our culture. We’ve had indigenous guest speakers presenting at different work sites to talk about reconciliation and have also taken part in a number of NAIDOC Week events. MPK actively encourages all employees to be involved in these events and to give feedback on reconciliation, so that our planning is better informed and also fully inclusive.

It’s personally important for me that we have positive, two-way relationships built on trust and respect between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and non-Indigenous Australians, and I look forward to playing my part in helping MPK achieve the positive outcomes it wants to reach as a company.

Name: Garry Muldowney
Role: Electrical Lead
Years in Industry: 20 plus 

Electrical Lead Garry Muldowney.
Electrical Lead Garry Muldowney.

My industry career began in the U.K. before I moved to Australia and joined MPK as an electrician in Chinchilla, right as the coal seam gas sector was taking off. To say it was a contrast to my life back home, would be a massive understatement. 

Since starting with MPK, I’ve progressed into the role as Electrical Lead, and now working on sites right across the Surat Basin. 

When I look back at the last decade, it’s quite amazing to see the massive progression of the CSG sector in the Surat Basin, but also to see how contractors like MPK have also developed their capacities and capabilities as the CSG sector has grown.

MPK started out as just a pipeline construction company, but even in those early days there was a drive within the company to do more, and as new opportunities arose, MPK were in a great position to make the most of those opportunities.

One of those key areas of growth for us was in the mechanical and electrical space, and soon after obtaining our electrical contractors’ licence, we were undertaking more complex scopes and working with a much broader client base.  To this day, our contract scopes and the skillsets of our ever increasing workforce are broadening too, and does not look like slowing down in the near future.

As a long-term employee, it’s good to see us doing well and winning more work, but importantly, winning new types of work and in new sectors as well, so we can broaden our depth of services and continue to grow as a company into the future. 

Name: Bart Robertson
Role: HSET Manager
Years in Industry: 18 

HSET Manager Bart Robertson.
HSET Manager Bart Robertson.

I have spent much of my career in the safety profession, and in that time, I’ve witnessed a lot of changes. But making the move three years ago to work in an organisation that values its people and ensures their skills and abilities are fully utilised is refreshing, and I believe this type of approach delivers positive change. 

I know MPK and the wider industry is now moving away from programs that require defined processes, and KPIs that rely on quantity not quality.

MPK is now shifting its focus on systems like Step 7, which is heavily geared towards fostering structured conversations and having good communication and culture within a workforce. 

Using these types of systems, which have realistic risk management controls, is key to constantly building and maintaining a positive safety culture within the workforce and hopefully the wider CSG industry.

Name: Alan Dunphy
Role: Construction Lead
Year in Industry: 15

Construction Lead Alan Dunphy.
Construction Lead Alan Dunphy.

I’ve spent most of my life within the pipeline construction industry and it’s been great to witness the positive changes that have come about over these years across all areas of our operations – from production and quality, to the safety and culture of our employees.

One of the big step changes I’ve noticed over the past few years is the way we’ve moved from the big and very expensive `first gas’ push, where we had massive workforces and big kms of pipe to get into the ground and wells coming online as fast as humanly possible. Moving on from those heady years, our industry is now focusing all of its energy and the skills of its people on working smarter, not harder.

We’re refining the plant, equipment and processes we use, in order to get better outcomes for us and our clients. I think that’s a good place to be in as an industry and makes us far more sustainable for the future.  I also see a lot more collaboration within our industry, with companies like MPK now able to work closely with its clients to come up with better ways to do things.  When I say better, I mean better ways to do things across every discipline in our industry – not just production, but better for our employees, our host communities and our environment.    

As an industry collective, we’re coming up with, and embracing, some very innovative ideas and they’re all coming in from the coal face thanks to developers and companies investing in their people and enabling their R&D to be fully realised.  If there was a single thing that has resulted in better retention, it’s having faith in people and their smarts, and giving them the opportunity to develop themselves, ensuring the industry’s future.

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This article is featured in the November edition of The Australian Pipeliner.
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