Gerard Schulze: A high-pressure dreamer - Energy Factor
Behind the energy

Gerard Schulze: A high-pressure dreamer

Jan. 10, 2017

As a kid in Papua New Guinea (PNG), I always dreamed big. I grew up in a small town in the Island’s West New Britain Province. My mother was a subsistence farmer, and I spent a lot of time working the fields helping her out. Still, I didn’t want to be a farmer all my life. As a kid, I enjoyed taking apart machinery and putting it back together to see how it worked. That interest is probably what inspired me to pursue a career in engineering.

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I was also curious about traveling to see the world. Growing up in PNG, I didn’t know if I would even be able to do that. But fast forward to today and I am now living in Melbourne, Australia, working as an engineer for one of the world’s largest energy companies. The path to where I am now really began at Papua New Guinea University of Technology, where I studied mechanical engineering. After completing my degree, I was one of the only six Papua New Guineans recruited into ExxonMobil’s first engineering graduate recruitment program.

As part of the program, I attended an 18-month job training assignment in Melbourne, Australia where I was mentored by industry experts. Prior to that, I’d never lived overseas, and I’d only visited Australia once. After the program finished, I moved back to PNG to a play a role in getting operations ready to start up at our major liquefied natural gas project (PNG LNG). More than 55,000 workers were involved with the project construction, and today I’m one of 2,400 people who work here.

PNG LNG began operating in 2014, and right now I’m working in a very hands-on role managing our wells in the highlands region. Because this area has a unique geography, our gas wells here are larger and have higher pressure profiles. For one project, I had the opportunity to facilitate the first full-technical risk assessments for these wells – a career milestone for me. And we’re planning on doing more big things in the coming years, including building a power plant that can supply reliable energy to our capital city and help meet up to 40 percent of electricity demand there.

In just a few years, I’ve reached goals that I once never thought were possible. Also, I’ve seen firsthand the benefits of delivering energy supplies to the people of Papua New Guinea and the region.

Speaking of impossible, more than anything I want to tell Papua New Guineans that you don’t really know what you can accomplish unless you try. Whatever opportunity you do get to participate in, give it as much as you can. Who knows where you could end up? If I can do it, so many other people can do it as well.