Case study: Sritama Sarkar, Pipeline Engineer, LOC Group, London

Meet Sritama Sarkar of engineering consultancy LOC Group, London

Sritama Sarkar is a Pipeline Engineer with LOC, an independent marine and engineering consultancy and survey organisation working around the world providing specialist high quality services to the shipping, energy and offshore industries.

Born in India, her career has taken her to the Netherlands and Canada for study.  She’s now based in London, but working on a variety of engineering projects located in different parts of the world.

The growth in the subsea and offshore sectors is still immense – who knows what the next 50 years will hold

She grew up watching her father develop his business designing, manufacturing and operating inland dredgers. She visited dredging sites and manufacturing facilities from an early age.

At University she studied for a first degree (BSc Hons) in Geology, followed by a Masters also in Geology.  Subsequently, she went to the Netherlands to complete a second Masters degree in Mechanical Engineering (specialising in dredging). This was a very specialist course offered by limited number of universities around the world.  Later discussion with a professor at an expert conference led to a scholarship for a PhD study in Ocean and Naval Architecture Engineering in Canada.

Dredging is an age-old technology – removing silt and other material from under the water. Usually used to maintain or increase the depth of a navigation channel, dredging is also be used to when laying  subsea cables and pipelines  in water of restricted depth.  Subsea power cables and pipelines must all be protected against trawling activities, anchors, heavy dropped objects, and the ocean currents.  The best way to do this is often to create a trench by dredging it, to bury the cable or pipeline and then backfill it with seabed material. This process protects the cable or pipeline and holds it in place.

Sritama has more than 12 years of experience in offshore pipeline installation and design, and  in the design, manufacture and testing of subsea trenchers, ploughs and dredgers.  Her day to day activity involves provision of marine warranty services for the offshore oil and gas, offshore windfarm and marine industries.  These services may include such diverse matters as the design and installation of subsea pipeline projects, and advice on the transport of massive infrastructure for LNG plants.

Increasingly it’s more cost effective to build infrastructure (buildings, processing facilities, energy plants, etc.) in sections, in Asia, which can then be moved by ship and assembled at the ultimate destination. It may be that the ultimate location is an inhospitable site with extreme climatic condition or there isn’t the specialist labour on site to build the structure from scratch.  The infrastructure is of very high value and the transport is a very high-risk operation, which is where Sritama comes in.

Sritama will work to assess, advise on and reduce the project risks.  She’ll review and advise on all the technical specifications and the documentation. She will provide relevant technical support to on-site Warranty Surveyors overseeing the load in and load out of high value, long-lead items.  Sritama gets involved with the testing and calibration of various equipment.  She will ensure that the project follows the best engineering practices and meets all international industry standards and regulations.

Talking about her job, Sritama says her current role is fantastic because there’s so much to consider from the technical and design point of view. The work is always changing making it stimulating and fascinating.  Plus, she adds, every project has to be culturally, socio-economic and politically sensitive, meeting international regulations, with a huge focus on protecting the environment.

If she was talking to her younger self, she would definitely recommend marine/ subsea engineering as a career, saying: “your opportunities are only limited by your imagination.”

She adds: “There’s nothing like it, the skills you develop can be transferable, the opportunities for global travel are incredible and you’ll never stop growing and learning. The growth in the subsea and offshore sectors is still immense with new application areas in the horizon, and there will be  job opportunities in the future. The oil and gas industry started by drilling on-land and now ultra-deep water fields where water depths beyond 2000m have been achieved –  who knows what the next fifty years will hold.”

Click here to download further information about a career in the UK maritime sector.