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Date Posted: 11:01:55 02/26/04 Thu
Right choice in a tough world
Jinghan Phalanger is a reservoir and simulation engineer with US oil giant ChevronTexaco, based in Houston, Texas, but his work takes him all over the world.
He is also responsible for teaching and training ChevronTexaco engineers from all over the world about reservoir simulation.
Mr Phalanger, from Nondugl village in the great Wahgi Valley of Western Highlands, hopes his story “can be an encouragement for each of us to bring out the best in ourselves”.
Mr Phalanger did most of his primary schooling in Nondugl, but also studied in Kerema and Mendi.
This was followed by Minj High School, from 1979 to 1982, and Kerevat National High School, from 1983 to 1984.
From 1985 to 1988, Mr Phalanger attended the University of Technology in Lae, graduating in 1998 with a Bachelor of Engineering degree in mechanical engineering.
He was also awarded the University of Technology Council Medal for overall best performance in mechanical engineering.
After graduation, Mr Phalanger went to work for Ok Tedi Mining Limited and was there for a year before entering and winning a scholarship to undertake postgraduate studies at the University of Sydney.
However, due to difficulties finding a place to stay and attend classes at night, he withdrew and returned to OTML.
While waiting to return to the University of Sydney, Mr Phalanger saw an advertisement in the paper about the then Department of Energy (DOE) requiring petroleum engineers.
This was around the time when Chevron Niugini Limited on behalf of the joint venture partners was developing the Kutubu Petroleum Project.
“In the middle of 1991,” he recalls, “I joined the DOE as a petroleum engineer within its petroleum branch. We were pretty much involved with the Kutubu project from construction to commissioning to production. We also had construction at Hides Gas that we had to get involved with. Because of limited manpower, the few of us were involved from drilling to facilities construction, through commissioning, reservoir engineering, to production.
“The petroleum industry was becoming very exciting and provided new challenges. I wanted to gain more knowledge of the industry, so I took a five-month course in Houston, Texas with the Oil and Gas Consultants Inc.
“I took classes in petroleum geology, geophysics and production, reservoir drilling, and completions engineering. While at the course, I met a professor from the University of Tulsa (Oklahoma, US), one of the petroleum engineering schools known worldwide for its petroleum engineering program and research.
“I inquired about the possibility of entering the University,” he said.
“He provided some details and encouraged me to apply.”
In August 1995, Mr Phalanger enrolled at the University of Tulsa after going out of his own way to contact the university and preparing for and paying for the entry exams.
After two years of hard work, he graduated in May 1997 with masters in petroleum engineering.
After returning from the University of Tulsa, Mr Phalanger worked briefly with Department of Petroleum and Energy before being employed by Chevron Niugini Limited as a petroleum engineer within the Reservoir Management Team.
On July 11, 1997, he married Lillian Iboro, an air traffic controller, with a large contingent of Chevron Niugini management and staff flying up to Minj for the wedding.
After few months of getting married, the Phalangers moved to Cairns as Chevron Niugini’s technical office in Port Moresby was relocated.
On June 24, 1999, their son Miane Abraham Phalanger was born.
Later that year, the company announced that the PNG and Australia business units would be merged with the technical office in Perth.
“I was on the team that was studying how best the two could be put together,” Mr Phalanger says. After the actual merger took place, I was given an opportunity to do a technical development assignment in San Ramon, California, US with the Chevron Production and Technology Company (CPTC).
“I was assigned to the reservoir simulation consulting team. The group was responsible for providing technical expertise in the areas of reservoir engineering and simulation to all our business units in the more than 180 countries of the world that we operate in.
“This was a tremendous opportunity for me because I got to work closely with the company’s technical experts and gain useful and practical knowledge and experience.
“My projects included PNG, Thailand, China, Venezuela, and The Republic of Congo (ROC). I was also responsible in teaching and training engineers who would come in from our operating companies such as Kuwait and Thailand for specific training in reservoir simulation.
“I was with CPTC from March 2000 to November 2002.”
In November 2002, Mr Phalanger left the PNG workforce and moved into the ChevronTexaco Overseas Petroleum Inc to work for its Southern Africa Business Unit (SASBU).
“Within SASBU, our areas of responsibility were our assets in the ROC. I have been in this group up until now. It is only a small group — one geologist, one production engineer, and I as the reservoir and simulation engineer.
“In the ROC, we have two producing fields and a number of other projects we are currently trying to develop. The work requires frequent trips to the ROC, Italy, and France.
“It was while in San Ramon that my two other children – Marion Kess and Karen Undak – were born.”
Last year, ChevronTexaco retained Mr Phalanger as its PNG assets were sold, and the SASBU was relocated to Houston, Texas.
In order to prepare himself for the changing and competitive business world, Mr Phalanger decided to enrol in a business management school.
“I enrolled at the University of Phoenix to do an MBA program,” he says. “Despite my work load and family commitments, I realised it was something I had to do. I have been committing all my after work hours and now, I am happy to say that next week, I will be graduating with a Master of Business Administration degree,” he said.
“Looking back from this vantage point, I can say that I made the right choice. It has been tough but it’s going to be worth it in just a week’s time.”
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In the highly complex and technical world of petroleum exploration; a world that requires the attention and services of highly trained and skilled personnel, a young Papua New Guinean named Jinghan Phalanger, is mixing it with the best in the world.
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