Key Roles on an FPSO and Their Educational Requirements

Key Roles on an FPSO and Their Educational Requirements


As a key player in Africa's oil and gas sector, Angola is home to a significant number of Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) units. These enormous vessels, with their labyrinthine networks of pipes, machinery, and facilities, are veritable floating cities out on the deep sea. Each FPSO requires a wide variety of skilled professionals to maintain smooth operations. From engineers and technicians ensuring the functionality of vital equipment, to caterers and HR officers looking after the welfare of the onboard crew, every role is vital. In this article, we delve deeper into the daily tasks of 30 crucial roles on an FPSO and the university degrees or technical training required for each of these positions.

1. FPSO Project Manager

From overseeing the entire FPSO operation and resolving conflicts to managing budgets and schedules, a project manager is the linchpin of the operation. A bachelor's or master's degree in project management or engineering is typically required, and a professional certification, such as the PMP or PRINCE2, is essential. In-depth experience in the offshore industry, specifically with FPSOs, is also necessary.

2. FPSO Engineer

The FPSO engineer's day-to-day tasks include designing, installing, and maintaining equipment, troubleshooting technical issues, and optimizing FPSO performance. They need a Bachelor's or Master's degree in Mechanical, Marine, or Offshore Engineering, along with substantial hands-on experience on an FPSO. Professional certification related to FPSO operations is also a plus.

3. Safety Officer

The Safety Officer is in charge of implementing safety regulations, conducting safety drills, and leading safety training programs. They also monitor FPSO operations for potential safety issues. A degree in Occupational Health and Safety is necessary, and a certification in safety management, like NEBOSH or IOSH, is beneficial. Experience in the offshore oil and gas industry is required.

4. Production Operator

A Production Operator manages oil and gas production operations, monitors equipment performance, and ensures the continuity of production. They often respond to alarms and handle emergencies. While a degree in Petroleum Engineering or a related field can be beneficial, vocational training in plant operations and certifications in relevant industry operations are more crucial. 

5. Deck Officer

Deck Officers oversee deck operations, cargo handling, and safety on the deck. Their tasks include ship navigation, maintenance of deck equipment, and managing loading and unloading operations. They generally hold a degree from a maritime academy and must be STCW-certified, demonstrating their seafaring competency.

6. Process Engineer

Process Engineers work daily on optimizing oil, gas, and water separation processes, conducting process simulations, and troubleshooting process-related problems. They need a degree in Chemical or Process Engineering and significant experience in an oil and gas environment. Relevant process safety management certifications can be an asset.

7. Marine Engineer

Marine Engineers ensure the proper functioning of marine and mechanical systems aboard the FPSO. They conduct regular system checks, perform necessary repairs, and plan preventative maintenance. A degree in Marine or Mechanical Engineering is usually required, and they should have maritime authority certification.

8. Maintenance Technician

Maintenance Technicians work on troubleshooting, repairing, and maintaining various FPSO equipment. They conduct daily checks and are often the first responders to equipment malfunctions. A technical degree in Mechanical or Electrical Engineering is beneficial, but more crucial are certifications in maintenance technology and hands-on experience in an offshore setting.

9. Control Room Operator

Control Room Operators monitor and control production systems from the control room, adjusting parameters as needed and coordinating with field operators. A degree in Engineering or a related field is beneficial, but specialized control room operations training and hands-on experience in the industry are mandatory.

10. Catering Manager

A Catering Manager oversees all catering services onboard, ensuring quality meals are provided on schedule. They manage food stocks, plan menus, and lead the catering staff. While a degree in Hospitality or a related field is beneficial, experience in large-scale catering operations and food safety certifications are essential.

11. Instrumentation Engineer

Instrumentation Engineers calibrate and maintain measurement instruments and control systems. They work to enhance instrument accuracy and reliability. A degree in Electrical or Instrumentation Engineering is typical, and hands-on experience in instrumentation in the offshore industry is crucial.

12. Crane Operator

A Crane Operator's daily tasks involve operating the crane for loading and offloading supplies and equipment. Safety and efficiency are key in their role. While no specific degree is necessary, they must complete a certified crane operator training program and have substantial experience in similar offshore or marine roles.

13. Drilling Supervisor

Drilling Supervisors oversee drilling operations, ensuring drilling is carried out efficiently and safely. They coordinate the drilling crew and liaise with geologists and other professionals. They typically hold a degree in Engineering, preferably in Petroleum Engineering, and have considerable experience in offshore drilling operations. 

14. Electrical Engineer

Electrical Engineers maintain and troubleshoot the electrical systems of the FPSO, ensuring a continuous power supply. They also work on enhancing the efficiency and safety of the electrical systems. A bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering is needed, and practical experience in a similar offshore role is crucial.

15. Quality Control Inspector

Quality Control Inspectors work to ensure the products and processes meet quality standards. They conduct regular checks, maintain quality records, and handle non-conformance issues. A degree in Quality Assurance or a related field is typical, along with quality assurance certifications, such as the Certified Quality Inspector (CQI) or Certified Quality Engineer (CQE).

16. Logistics Coordinator

Logistics Coordinators manage supply chain operations. They work on procurement, transportation, and delivery of supplies. Their role also involves inventory management and vendor coordination. A degree in Supply Chain Management or a related field is beneficial, but experience in logistics operations in the oil and gas industry is more critical.

17. Environmental Officer

The Environmental Officer ensures FPSO operations are in compliance with environmental regulations. They monitor emissions, manage waste, and conduct environmental impact assessments. They usually hold a degree in Environmental Science or Engineering, and certifications in environmental management systems are beneficial.

18. Human Resources Officer

Human Resources Officers handle personnel-related matters. They oversee recruitment, manage employee relations, and administer employee benefits. They often hold a degree in Human Resource Management or Business Administration, complemented by HR certifications like SHRM-CP or PHR.

19. Medic

The Medic provides healthcare services onboard. They conduct regular health checks, manage medical emergencies, and oversee health and hygiene practices. They need to be qualified healthcare professionals, holding a degree in Nursing or Medicine, and have additional training in emergency medical care.

20. Diver

Divers perform underwater inspections, maintenance, and repair tasks. Their job requires professional diving certifications, such as Commercial Diving Certification or equivalent, and they must have considerable experience in underwater work in offshore settings.

21. Offshore Installation Manager

The Offshore Installation Manager is responsible for all FPSO operations. They coordinate all departments, ensure compliance with regulations, and make crucial decisions in emergencies. They usually hold a degree in Engineering or Maritime Studies, with extensive experience in offshore operations. Leadership training and crisis management skills are necessary.

22. Hydrographic Surveyor

Hydrographic Surveyors conduct surveys to map the seafloor. They collect and interpret data, operate survey equipment, and prepare survey reports. They typically have a degree in Marine Science, Geomatics, or related fields, and they need practical experience in offshore surveying.

23. Corrosion Engineer

Corrosion Engineers design and implement corrosion management systems. They conduct corrosion tests, analyze corrosion rates, and recommend corrosion mitigation measures. A degree in Materials or Chemical Engineering is typically required, supplemented with certifications like the NACE Certified Corrosion Specialist.

24. Radio Operator

Radio Operators manage the ship's communication systems. They handle incoming and outgoing radio communications and maintain communication equipment. Although a degree is not mandatory, they must have professional training in radio operation, a General Radio Operator License (GROL), and experience in offshore operations.

25. Cargo Operator

Cargo Operators manage the loading and unloading of cargo. They ensure cargo operations are carried out safely and efficiently. While no specific degree is necessary, they must complete a certified training program related to cargo operations and have substantial experience in similar offshore or marine roles.

26. HVAC Technician

HVAC Technicians are responsible for maintaining heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems. They conduct regular checks, troubleshoot issues, and ensure a comfortable environment onboard. A technical degree in HVAC or related fields is beneficial, but more important are HVAC certifications and hands-on experience in the industry.

27. ROV Pilot

ROV Pilots operate remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) for underwater inspections and interventions. They need to have completed a certified ROV pilot training program and have hands-on experience in ROV operations in the offshore industry.

28. Scaffolders

Scaffolders build and dismantle scaffolding for maintenance and repair work. While no specific degree is required, they should have completed a certified scaffolder training program and have experience in offshore scaffolding.

29. Welder

Welders perform welding work for maintenance and repair tasks. They need to hold a professional welding certification and have considerable experience in welding tasks in offshore environments.

30. Painter

Painters are responsible for painting and coating tasks to protect the FPSO's structure from corrosion. No specific degree is necessary, but they should have completed a professional training program in painting and coating, and have relevant offshore experience. 

Each role on an FPSO has its own set of daily tasks, which may seem routine but are critical to the safe and efficient operation of the FPSO. The education and training required for these roles highlight the level of skill and dedication necessary to work in such a challenging environment.