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Ola Balbaa, wells engineer, bp and young professional member of the POWERful Women board. (Image source: POWERful Women)

In advance of International Women in Engineering Day on 23 June, Oil Review Middle East spoke to Ola Balbaa, wells engineer with bp and young professional member of the POWERful Women board, who shared her experiences and thoughts on advancing women in engineering roles

Can you give us a bit of background about your role, and how you came to get where you are today?

I studied Petrochemicals Engineering in Egypt, at Alexandria University, followed by an M.Sc. degree in renewable energy, doing a joint research scope between Alexandria and Kyoto University in Japan.

I then joined bp as a wells engineer in 2016, working offshore, and have been working in this role in the energy field for seven years now. During my career span, I worked offshore on deepwater harsh environment facilities for almost three years, then moved to an office-based role as a planning and execution wells engineer.

I have been able to obtain my leadership trust, steadily build a comprehensive knowledge in the field and reach out beyond that to expand my perspectives through different initiatives and volunteering opportunities. Currently I am part of the central wells discipline team looking after drilling operations in the North Sea region of the UK.

What are the main challenges you have experienced as a women engineer so far in your career, and how have you overcome them?

Working on offshore rigs is a harsh environment for both men and women; most challenges were around cultural acceptance of me as the only female engineer on a drilling rig of 160 men.

In this male-dominated and extreme work environment, my biggest challenge was to get the team’s trust to first learn and gain the knowledge I needed, then lead the team towards safe and efficient energy delivery.

My biggest success moment was when the old-school driller who refused to greet me every morning for six months of work on an onshore rig eventually came and shook my hand and said “I want my daughter to be like you”.

What do you think have been your main achievements, and what are your aspirations and ambitions for the future?

During my master’s degree studies I received the State's Encouragement Award in Science from Egypt’s Ministry of Trade and Industry, for my start-up project Wara2a (Paper), which was to produce paper ecologically without harming the trees or the environment. In 2018 I was nominated among the Top 50 Women in Egypt, an award given to influential female figures. I received the award from Dr.Hala El Said, Minister of Planning and Economic Development. I have lectured and spoken at several energy conferences, such as ADIPEC, IADC and SPE, as well as diversity platforms in Egypt and the UK. I currently lead the Women in Wells group in bp and recently joined the board of POWERful Women as a Young Professional member. I was recently invited by the CBC media channel to speak about women working in harsh fields.

What do you think companies could do to create a more inclusive and supportive environment for women in engineering, and help them advance in the industry? 

POWERful Women recently released its Annual State of Nation report which reflects how the top UK energy companies are performing on gender diversity. Women are now in 34% of leadership and 32% of middle management roles in the UK energy sector and some companies are excelling and leading by example.

However, progress on women on boards – and particularly the key decision-making roles like CEO – has stalled. I believe that the most important steps come beyond the analysis, stats and numbers. As well as setting bold targets, companies need to understand and dive deeply into the gaps that women face in their day-to-day jobs, address them thoroughly and keep a safe follow-up communications channel to track progress through enablers like male allies and surveys.

How do you think young girls and women can be encouraged to pursue careers in engineering?

Through research and persistence, anyone can do anything! Don’t quit early, fail early. In other words, if it’s really what you want, do it and pursue it, don’t give up and don’t get discouraged because of stereotypes. And if you fail fast, you follow a progressive route where you learn faster and keep the momentum to develop.

What future do you see for women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), and the opportunities on offer in these sectors?

The energy trilemma is a huge challenge and opportunity at the same time. The transition to net zero and a reliable and affordable energy system is going to require skills, innovation and leadership from people from all kinds of backgrounds. Research shows that greater diversity adds huge value to business performance when done in the right way.

As the sector transforms, there are huge and exciting opportunities for women with STEM skills of all kinds, whether they are just starting out or can bring them over from other industries where they’ve worked – it’s a fast-moving and thrilling time, and women pursuing STEM careers will continue to carry huge value to the energy industry.


KBR will support the delivery of megaprojects in Iraq.

KBR has been awarded a US$46mn five-year contract to support the Iraqi government's infrastructure and future energy ambitions

Under the terms of the contract, KBR, which already plays a significant role in the development of Iraq’s energy sector, will provide advisory and consultancy capabilities to the Iraqi Government's Ministry of Planning, with a focus on creating an effective program environment to support successful delivery of strategic megaprojects. This will include economic planning, strategy development, feasibility studies, technical reviews and large-scale project management.

KBR's focus on innovation and sustainability will be integral to delivering the ambitious development plans, aligning with Iraq's long-term vision for growth and environmental stewardship.

Jay Ibrahim, president of KBR Sustainable Technology Solutions, said, "This is a great example of KBR utilising its growing global capabilities to support regeneration and sustainable growth of a nation. We are proud to further our partnerships in country, where we are already helping make our customers' ambitious plans a reality. With our deep expertise in engineering and energy solutions, KBR is well positioned to help our valued customers meet their energy security and sustainability objectives."

To support the project, KBR plans to expand its presence in country through the creation of an operational office in Baghdad and potentially an engineering design centre to enhance the skills of Iraqi engineers.

ADNOC is building its international LNG portfolio. (Image source: Adobe Stock)

A joint venture led by Technip Energies with JGC and NMDC Energy has been awarded a major contract worth around US$5.5bn by ADNOC for the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) of the Ruwais LNG project

The project will consist of two natural gas liquefaction trains with a total LNG production capacity of 9.6 Mtpa), more than doubling ADNOC’s LNG production capacity to around 15 MMtpa,as the company builds its international LNG portfolio.

The plant will use electric-driven motors instead of conventional gas turbines and will be powered by clean energy. It is set to be the first LNG export facility in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region to run on clean power, making it one of the lowest-carbon intensity LNG plants in the world.

Arnaud Pieton, CEO of Technip Energies, commented, “We are honoured to have been awarded by ADNOC the Ruwais LNG project, a pioneering initiative in the LNG sector. By powering electrified LNG trains with nuclear energy, this project sets a new standard for energy security and sustainability. By leveraging our low-carbon and electrified LNG leadership we will support ADNOC’s position as a reliable global natural gas supplier and commitment to decarbonisation.”

His Highness Sheikh Khaled bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council, endorsed the final investment decision (FID) for the Ruwais LNG project and the award of the EPC contract at a meeting of the Executive Committee of the ADNOC Board of Directors.

The premium quality cables deliver unmatched performance in harsh, high temperature environments. (Image source TFS)

In the challenging environment facing the oil and gas industry in the Middle East, the need for durable and reliable communication infrastructure is critical

Tactical Fiber Systems (TFS) has emerged as a leader in this field with DuraTAC® cables assembled with military grade HMA Expanded Beam connectors. These premium quality cables are specifically engineered for indoor and outdoor installations and deliver unmatched performance and resilience in harsh high temperature environments. In fact, with millions at stake, SpaceX uses TFS DuraTAC fiber cables for communications during every launch.

Featuring stainless-steel armored inner tubing, DuraTAC cables offer exceptional protection against physical damage while ensuring that the fragile glass fibers within each cable sheath remain intact and operational. The outer covering is a high heat tolerant TPU polymer that not only provides physical protection but also shields the cables from degradation against UV radiation. This UV resistance is essential to maintain the performance and durability of cables during prolonged exposure to the sun in outdoor installations.

Premium quality connectors

But a fiber cable is only as good as its connector. Here again, TFS excels using premium quality HMA “Expanded Beam” connectors and breakouts to ensure precision optical alignment, low loss and immunity from water, mud, dust oil and other contaminants.

TFS DuraTAC cables can be ordered factory direct, cut to length as desired and pre-terminated with HMA connectors or any specific fiber connector as desired. Cables can be ordered with or without durable cable reels. TFS also sells custom made breakouts, patch panels and converters to meet the specific requirements of any application.

For more information: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Phone: +34 851000887

The project includes the recovery of gas currently flared in the Basra region to supply power generation plants. (Image source: Adobe Stock)

Wood has been awarded a US$46mn, three-year contract by TotalEnergies in Iraq related to Iraq’s Associated Gas Upstream Project, part of the Gas Growth Integrated Project (GGIP) in Southern Iraq

Wood will provide front-end engineering design (FEED), detailed design, procurement support, and construction and commissioning assistance for the first phase of the project. The contract will be delivered by Wood’s teams in Basra and Dubai, creating 100 new positions.

The GGIP includes the recovery of gas currently flared in the Basra region to supply power generation plants, along with the construction of a seawater treatment unit and a 1GW solar power plant. Once implemented, this project will increase electricity supply to the Iraqi people, advance Iraq’s energy self-sufficiency, reduce harmful climate effects from flared gas in southern Iraq, and allow for the export of gas products to new markets. The consortium implementing the project is composed of TotalEnergies (45%), QatarEnergy (25%) and Iraq’s National oil company, the Basrah Oil Company (30%).

Shaun Dewar, senior vice president of Operations, Middle East and Africa at Wood said, “We are proud to support TotalEnergies on this project, which aligns with our shared commitment to pursue a secure and sustainable energy supply. We have a long-standing history of delivering engineering and consulting services in the region and this contract reaffirms our reputation for excellence.

"This project will improve environmental sustainability through emissions reduction efforts. As part of this agreement, Wood will also continue to invest in local employment and skills development in the Basra region.”

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