Dr Colin Grant CSci, CMarSci, FIMarEST
Describe your academic/training history and how you got to where you are today.
I loved geography at school and obtained a BSc in Physical Geography from Bristol University in 1975. At that time I was offered a Ph.D at Bristol, using NASA satellite photos to investigate meteorology over the UK. I obtained my Ph.D in 1979. Having become focused on meteorology during my Ph.D, I joined a small weather forecasting company, Imcos Marine in Aberdeen, to train as an offshore weather forecaster for the North Sea. In 1980 I was seconded to Brunei Shell Petroleum as a reserve forecaster and metocean specialist to study typhoon climatology in the South China Sea. I remained in Brunei until 1984 when I left Imcos and joined BP in their Ocean Engineering Dept. For the next 30 years I remained at BP, in different organisations, but essentially performing the role of metocean specialist.
I retired in 2014 and then consulted on metocean matters for a further 3 years. I coordinated the surveillance part of the Joint Industry Project on Oil Spill Response, set up after the 2010 Macondo incident in the Gulf of Mexico. I still maintain my CPD by attending conferences and lectures, reading journals and magazines and volunteering at the IMarEST and Science Council.
Describe a typical workday
Being retired, the following is based on my working day at BP towards the end of my career:
Checking emails to ensure any overnight requests for assistance have been noted. In large organisations there may be activities going on 24/7.
Set up a plan for the day and prioritise deliverables. Daily work could include reviewing contractor and consultant reports, developing project work scopes, researching on the internet to check new analysis methods, tracking down standards from industry bodies, attending project meetings, writing project reports, performing analysis of data, running numerical models etc etc.
What skills are required in your position on a day-to-day basis?
Fundamental knowledge of the technical subject is paramount. In my case, my meteorological knowledge morphed into marine meteorology. With experience on the job, I have an appreciation of many areas of oceanography without actually a formal qualification in the subject. One of the keys to success in many jobs is to be able to work as part of a team. I was usually the only metocean specialist at BP working with engineers, geologists, geophysicists, project managers etc. Hence good communication skills are important to explain technical matters to other discipline experts. Presentation and written skills are very important. I often used external contractors and consultants to perform technical work on BP's behalf. This required good project management skills - budget controls, monitoring contractors performance, providing feedback, reviewing technical reports. Knowledge of technical and HSE standards are also very important for the technical area that you work in. I was lucky enough to be involved on industry committees developing the international (ISO) standards that are used by the offshore industry for metocean matters.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
Working on technically challenging projects as part of a team. Liaising with a wide variety of specialists both with within and outside the company in order to achieve the deliverables required.
What challenges have you had to overcome?
One of the biggest was in the early days of oil field developments in the West of Shetlands in the early 1990's. Until that time metocean work and design criteria development assumed that fixed platforms would be used to develop oil and gas reserves in the North Sea. The development of the Foinaven and Schiehallion Fields by BP required the use of Floating Production Storage & Offloading (FPSO) vessels. The range of metocean criteria for such designs was significantly more complex and extensive than for fixed structures. We also needed to measure many more parameters in the field, leading to large and expensive offshore measurement campaigns for wave and current conditions.
Why did you become a member of the IMarEST?
Many of my colleagues at BP were engineers and were CEng registered. BP were keen that all its staff were appropriately profesionally registered for the jobs that they performed. When CSci was introduced in 2003, IMarEST decided to apply for this registration and also to introduce CMarSci. I was honoured to be asked by the IMarEST to help them define the competences for CMarSci. I therefore joined the IMarEST and became registered.
Being involved at the IMarEST has led to many opportunities. I have been involved on the Membership Committee, performing professional review Interviews (PRI's) and assisting at university accreditation visits. I have also represented the IMarEST at the Science Council and am involved in license reviews and standard setting for their registers as chair of their Registration Authority.
Give us an interesting fact about you!
I am a lifelong Leeds United fan, having started to watch them in the early 1960's.