Saket Kumar Jha from the Department of Chemical Engineering did his summer internship with Schlumberger. In an interview with Chennai36, he talks about life at Schlumberger, the selection procedure and what one can expect to gain from this internship.

Tell us a little something about your intern- work location, your work profile.

I got an internship in Schlumberger as a field engineer trainee. Schlumberger is an Oil and Gas services provider, so my work was more or less related to that field. There are different segments in Schlumberger like Drilling, Well services, Wirelines, Geophysics and few others. I was given an internship in Well services segment, In my segment, there are three sub-segments, Cementing, Fracturing and Coil Tubing while I was assigned to the Fracturing sub-segment. My internship was based in Ahmedabad. They do give projects in  Schlumberger like other companies but that constitutes only 30% of the total internship. They want interns to have an experience of their company and decide whether it is suited for them. Meanwhile, Schlumberger also evaluates the interns and find if they are a right fit for them.

Why Schlumberger? How is it like working with Schlumberger?

From whatever information I had about Schlumberger (which I got from seniors, internship team, and the classmates) I thought that it was the right to match for me, so I applied for Schlumberger. Currently, Schlumberger has got a project from ONGC where they have to frack (fracking is a term in oil and gas industry where fractures are made deep inside the earth’s crust such that oil comes out from underneath) 210 wells for them in Ahmedabad and nearby areas. For the 28 days that I was there, I got to see 3 such fracking. So Ahmedabad has a base where the tractors, pumps etc. are brought for maintenance and kept if they are not required for fracturing job. Whenever they have to go for fracking at various locations (also called going for a ‘job’), they arrange everything at the base and then a crew team along with the required equipment are sent for the job. The equipment is then brought back to base for maintenance and repair purposes as and when required. A typical job lasts 3 days- the first day is called SRT, the second day they would have “data frack” and the “main frack” on the final day. I saw a total of 3 jobs, so I was present at the well site for 7-8 days and at the base for the rest of the days. Whenever I was at the base, my work would start around 7:30-8 a.m. until about 5-6 p.m. Work at the base usually involved going through whatever maintenance/testing that was going on; while work at the field was more of observation of the fracking process. So, the thing with Schlumberger is that it is more of exposure rather than streamlined work that they expect.

I also did a project during the course of my internship.  Whenever I went to the site (The location of oil field), I didn’t attend base for the whole day; I had to assist the crew members with their work- switching off the valves, seeing the tanker level, sand loading etc. When I went to the base, I was largely involved in the projects and surveys, as part of maintenance and testing. Before every project where they would have to prepare a job list- based on the location of the next well to be fracked, ideal pressure and temperature conditions etc. The requirements would then be listed out according to the data. My project was to create an excel master sheet, which would contain 3 sheets- one with a consolidated database of all the required equipment. The second was to prepare a user-friendly excel sheet where the user plugs in data like job rate, expected pressure, well temperature etc. In the next sheet, there would be a dropdown list of equipment. Basically, all the requirements of a job were condensed into one excel sheet rather than discussions between crew members and then deciding upon the equipment. This would save a lot of time and improve efficiency.

Please walk us through the selection procedure.

It is quite a standard procedure. First comes the resume shortlist. They do mention in their criteria that they might conduct a group discussion. However, in my case, there wasn’t. Next came the interview, which was more or less an HR interview (Skype-based). A somewhat technical question that was asked was about the workshop course that students have in their first year- what kind of welding did you do, what types of power tools did you use in your workshop etc.

Why do you think they selected you?

Schlumberger basically seeks interns/employees with strong physical strength since the work conditions demand it. So it is known to hire people from a sports background, I did have a sports background. I have also been the sports secretary of Alakananda hostel. As aforementioned, it is more of an exposure; when you go to an oilfield, it won’t be an AC room where you work peacefully, it will be an open area under scorching heat, so they look for someone fit to adapt to these weather conditions.

Any relevant courses/projects to be taken up before this internship?

One course which helped me was Unconventional Oil and Gas Energy in the sixth semester taught as an elective course. It was more of an insight into what Oil and Gas industry does in general. It did touch upon drilling and fracking processes besides giving a broad idea of the industry. The course may not entirely facilitate the work, but it did help me on some level.

How relevant are extra-curricular and Positions of Responsibility? If any, what position did you hold, and how did it help you?

So the PoRs which I held were in Sponsorship and PR at Shaastra during my second year, sports secretary of Alakananda hostel last year and also a coordinator at DMC. The most helpful learning, in my opinion, was from Shaastra Sponsorship team, though not in a direct manner. My work there was mostly to see to it that things get done, coordinating with various teams like Facilities, Design etc. When I stepped into the industry as an intern, I faced a similar scenario. It was then that I realized that the coordship which seemed not-so-useful at first had indirectly taught me a lot.

Any memorable experiences from this internship?

So, as I said earlier, the usual day wasn’t well defined for me. When I went to the site one day, there was a failure of wellhead resulting in pressure overshooting beyond set conditions. This damage was to be replaced and we had to stay at the site late until about 11 p.m. That was the day I realized that in Schlumberger, life is challenging every day. The manager gave us a treat on our final day, which was quite a fun experience we had.

What were your key takeaways from this whole experience/ How has this internship helped you?

First off, the direct takeaway would be the exposure to the oil and gas industry. Sometimes it is difficult to know what working in the industry is like, unless you see it for yourself. Secondly, during my tenure, the thing which hit me was that this is what my life after insti might shape into. The relatively easy life in insti wouldn’t last forever, so internships do make you consider your future plans.

Would you like to discuss your goals and ambitions with us?

I am by and large a nation-oriented individual and would like to make a mark in the society. The desire to serve the society and nation, in general, is what drives me in my life. Though I cannot explicitly mention what career path I’ll choose, I will be going in this direction for sure.

Author:  Ishan Buxy(BT-CE’21)

This article is part of the series – The Intern Guru. To get regular updates on our articles, follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/chennai36 and Instagram @chennai36_iitm