Meet the team - Espen Hjelm
By Espen Hjelm - June 01, 2023
Introducing Espen Hjelm, Our Operations Engineer!
Based in Perth, Australia, Espen is an invaluable member of our tight-knit team, providing operational support to our clients in the Southern and Eastern Hemispheres.
We sat down with Espen to learn more about his inspiring career journey with HydraWell and discover how he spends his spare time. There’s plenty to find out!
How long have you been part of the HydraWell team?
Since December 2015.
What’s your career background?
My career journey began with getting a certificate of apprenticeship as a service electrician. This entailed fixing and maintaining IT equipment at the biggest oil company in Norway Statoil (now Equinor). While working there my eyes were opened to the oil industry, and as soon as I got my certificate approved, I quit my job and started at the pre-engineering course at the University of Stavanger followed by a bachelor’s degree in petroleum technology at the same university.
When I had 1 year left of my bachelor’s degree, I was offered offshore job with Archer as a drilling trainee offshore, so I spent my last year of my bachelor's juggling work and study. Following this I decided to study a master’s degree in petroleum technology with specialisation in drilling while still working in a full-time position in Archer. I can say for certain that I do not miss the days when I was working 12 hours shift followed by a few hours of studying!
Once I finished my master’s degree, I started working for Hydrawell beginning as an offshore supervisor working offshore in Norway, UK, Holland, and Malaysia. In 2018, I was positioned in Kuala Lumpur supporting a P&A campaign with both onshore and offshore roles. Since January 2022, I have been working as an Operational Engineer based in Perth, Australia.
What does a typical day look like for you?
It always starts with the highlight of the day, a good warm morning coffee.
My main tasks as an operational engineer are to ensure that our operations in Australia are delivered without any issues and that we meet the customer’s needs effectively. This includes tasks such as supporting our sales department in a tender submissions to supporting our clients in the planning phase of a scope to making sure we have equipment available that fulfils the customers applicable QA/QC standards and so much more. All in all, I ensure we maintain good relationships with our clients and deliver safe and flawless operations. Related to all my responsibilities, there are always questions and enquiries about our technology, so it is also my job to follow up and provide feedback and answers as required. As we are a small department here in Australia with only me and Ivar Holm (BD), I also participate in sales meetings, conferences and other meetings with potential clients.
After work I like to get outside and enjoy the sunshine as much as I can - I always get a bad conscience if I spend a sunny day inside, I guess this is typical for a Norwegian!
What do you like about working at HydraWell?
We are a small but a highly knowledgeable team. My co-workers are inclusive, and you always get the support you are asking for. Everyone knows everyone. We as employees get a lot of responsibility, and if you are willing take it, there are good opportunities for personal and career growth.
What would you do (for a career) if you weren’t doing this?
I am really fascinated by the oil industry and especially what’s going on down in the wells. I am lucky to work in an industry I find really interesting, and it is hard to imagine working in a different sector. I even have my own drill bit as an accessory to my office! However, to answer the question, I do like numbers and calculations so I think maybe a financial role could be a good match for a different career.
What do you enjoy doing when you are not working?
I have played football my whole life and recently joined the Perth Royals upon moving to Australia. Unfortunately, as I get older my body does not like the wear and tear as much as it used to! However, my co-worker Ivar has smooth talked me into golf so I have just started my first lessons and hopefully this will be a hobby I can continue in years to come.
Me and my partner are huge Formula 1 fans, so we watch everything we can and after moving to Australia we just got our first chance to see a live Formula 1 event in Melbourne. It was amazing!
I like to get outside and enjoy the sunshine as much as I can. This can include going for a run or walk around the Swan River in Perth. My partner and I also like to visit the beaches and as many local restaurants and pubs as we can to enjoy some good food and drinks outside.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
Workwise, I had a chat with a drilling manager when I was around 18 years old during my apprenticeship at Statoil. He told me to get offshore and get hands-on experience prior to start working as an engineer. It might be bit of a coincidence, but I did exactly that, and now it benefits me every day. It is such an advantage to have been on rigs all over the world all with different standards and actually know what you are talking about when you try to plan efficient and safe PWC operations.