Avtar is a Petroleum Engineer from Woodside, having graduated in 2014 with a Bachelor's degree in Chemical and Process Engineering at UWA.

What advice would you give to a university student who wants to gain more exposure to the oil and gas industry, and in the future, hope to become a valued contributor to the industry?

  Avtar Dhaliwal , Operations Reservoir Engineer, Woodside.

Avtar Dhaliwal, Operations Reservoir Engineer, Woodside.

My advice to university students is to be proactive and to take an active interest in the Oil and Gas (O&G) industry. Simple things such as reading about what drives the industry, which industries directly and indirectly impact the O&G industry and the direction the industry is heading towards are always beneficial.

Learn about specific companies within the industry and find out about their mission, strategies, assets and how wide their customer and geographical reach is. You can get 'indirect' exposure by talking to people who work in the industry and asking them questions about their experiences. How well you apply all this information you have read and heard about will determine your personal contributions to the industry. A way of doing so is by being part of the industry yourself - look out for industry projects you can get involved in, for example thesis projects or vacation program positions.

If you constantly question ‘what if’ and push the boundaries, you will indirectly make a valued contribution to the industry.


What is the biggest factor that made you choose the oil and gas industry over other industries (e.g. the long term opportunities or expansive and/or scale of operations)?

 North Rankin Complex, North West Shelf Project, Western Australia,  Woodside Energy Ltd.

North Rankin Complex, North West Shelf Project, Western Australia, Woodside Energy Ltd.

The biggest factor that made me choose the O&G industry is the sense of satisfaction that follows suit when you are able to contribute toward meeting the global energy demands of tomorrow.

Furthermore, the industry provides a combination of field and office work, and given most O&G companies operate across multiple countries, it provides an excellent opportunity to work offshore and overseas. This appeals to a young professional like myself.


What is a change that you would like to see in the way the industry currently operates?

The Oil and Gas industry is known to have a cyclical nature due to various factors (changing market conditions, technological advancements, etc.), making it very unpredictable at times and often steers the industry to being reactive instead of proactive.

"You can get ‘indirect’ exposure by talking to people who work in the industry and asking them questions about their experiences."

As such, the change that I would like to see in the industry is to continuously challenge the existing ways of operations and actively constrain costs in light of staying competitive during tough market conditions.


Could you briefly describe your current role and the technical line you are involved with? 

At a high level, my current role involves daily production optimisation in line with Woodside’s vision of delivering superior shareholder returns.

Since my role sits in production operations, I’ve been privileged to be able to work with multiple technical lines on a daily basis. These disciplines include Reservoir Engineering, Subsea and Pipelines, Process Engineering, Drilling and Completions, Well systems and Frontline Operations.

 LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) tanker at the Karratha Gas Plant loading terminal, Western Australia,  Woodside Energy Ltd.

LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) tanker at the Karratha Gas Plant loading terminal, Western Australia, Woodside Energy Ltd.

How has your company empowered you to achieve a feat that you personally thought not possible, and that you know you would not have been able to achieve at another company?

By being part of the graduate program, I have been placed in different rotations, which have given me exposure across different functions of the business. I am constantly learning and diversifying my knowledge and skill set. Here at Woodside the pace of learning and growing is accelerated. Woodside also places great emphasis on mentorship. This has been invaluable as I’ve not only learnt from experienced colleagues, but also built strong relationships with them.


Where/what role do you see yourself working in five years time? Is it in the same industry and/or role? Or would you like to diversify your career portfolio?

In five years time, I definitely see myself working in the O&G industry simply because of my interest and passion. I intend to challenge myself and steer my career towards a technical team lead role. This would allow me to continue developing my technical and leadership capabilities.

To what extent have you been able to direct and shape your career so far? How have you positioned yourself to make these decisions?

You forge your own path! It certainly helps that while on the graduate program I was given the opportunity to express what my interests were and where I would like to further develop and challenge myself. The unwavering support of my professional network has also provided me with the confidence to continue to reach out and take on new challenges. 

 Karratha Gas Plant, North West Shelf Project, Western Australia,  Woodside Energy Ltd.

Karratha Gas Plant, North West Shelf Project, Western Australia, Woodside Energy Ltd.

What has been your most interesting on-site experience?

In my first year in the O&G industry, I was part of an offshore drilling campaign, which was definitely an exhilarating and an eye-opening experience. Landing this opportunity gave me greater understanding of the overall integration of the entire drilling operation. It also allowed me to work closely with different service providers and learn from their expertise. The experience was made even better, as the views are incredible.

Looking back, what skills or areas of study do you wish you had strengthened before entering the workforce? 

This is a tricky one as my strengths have also been my weaknesses in some regards. I couldn’t predict my future, but my educational background is in Mechatronics Engineering, Aerospace Engineering, Chemical and Process Engineering and now I am a Petroleum Engineer by profession.

Although a background in multiple engineering disciplines has developed my overall analytical skills, it would have been nice if I had commenced my career with more in-depth subsurface knowledge as I wouldn’t have had to climb such a steep learning curve at the beginning.

This only goes to show that if you are willing to learn and put in the hard yards, regardless of whatever technical background you come from, if you are proactive and have an open mind, you will succeed. Maybe not straight away, but with time and determination, you will forge your own path. 


SPE UWA would like to thank Woodside for giving permission to post Avtar's profile.
More information about Woodside can be found here.