Book Review—The Oil & Gas Engineering Guide

Hervé Baron’s book provides an excellent ‘Dummies’ guide to onshore and offshore construction.

This book* targets young engineers starting a career in oil and gas and experienced ones coming in from another vertical. It should also be useful for software engineers trying to see the ‘big picture’ of how oil and gas facilities both onshore and offshore are put together.

Baron is a project manager with French engineering contractor Technip and has 15 years experience of building FPSOs and LNG plants. He also lectures at the French Petroleum Institute (IFP) school.

The Oil and Gas Engineering Guide (OGEG) is a 200 page, well illustrated English language publication. Illustrations include CAD imagery, Hazop plans, spec sheets, piping and instrumentation diagrams and more. In fact just about everything that you will encounter in a major oil and gas project.

Baron’s motivation for the work came from the observation that existing literature was all highly domain specific—focusing on individual disciplines such as process, electrical or civil engineering. OGEG fills this gap with an overview of the whole process. As well as describing each discipline’s contribution, Baron does a good job of describing the arcane division of labors between the multiple stakeholders. He notes that as projects are increasingly divvied-up and performed at far-flung locations around the world, it is hard today for a young engineer to gain ‘end to end’ knowledge.

OGEG fills this gap with a highly accessible book—pitched between the level of a ‘Dummies’ guide and textbook. Baron writes with authority and packs as much relevant information into as little space as possible. In an age where ‘knowledge is power’ and information retention is often the norm, this book is a breath of fresh air.

OGEG covers the whole project lifecycle from front end engineering design, through procurement and construction. A dozen or so individual engineering disciplines are covered and copiously illustrated.

What surprised us was the lack of what have become (to us) familiar facets of oil and gas plant information management. Our reporting from events like PlantTech and Fiatech led us to expect more on computerized information handover and databased plant information. OGEG’s focus on the engineering document as the basic element of construction—still mostly in paper form—reflects the real world.

OGEG offers a short list of frequently used acronyms to help beginners get started. But, like many publications from France, it does not have an index. A surprising lacuna that makes the reviewer’s job hard. Are the topics of ‘handover,’ ‘prime contractor,’ ‘owner operator’ covered? Without an index it is hard to be sure. But really, this is OGEG’s only shortcoming. If your job takes you anywhere near an engineering project, you have to buy this book!

* The Oil & Gas Engineering Guide, H. Baron 2010. Published by Editions Technip. ISBN 9782710809456.

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