Tell me about yourself
My name is Pål Espen Antonsen and I am a Specialist Engineer here at IK-Group. I come from the East of Norway but have lived in Stavanger since 1994. I am married and have two boys who are 19 and 12.
Outside of work my hobby is very similar to my day job, it’s in mechanics too. I enjoy spending my free time designing things like subsea tooling and solutions. I am really passionate about it which is why I do it both in and out of work. I also really enjoy travelling and thanks to IK’s flexibility, I worked remotely from Thailand for two months at the end of last year. It was such an enjoyable experience to work and make connections in a different country, and the sun is always welcome!
What is your background and how did you get into this industry?
In the early days of my career, I was working in different roles within a variety of industries; pulping, electronic fabrication and TV production are just a few. My educational background is in tool making which helped me gain basic mechanical knowledge and from there I went to engineering school to complete a degree in mechanical engineering.
My first job in this industry was in Stavanger at a small company called Unmanned Diving Specialists. After that I gained experience at Oceaneering and Rock Water, which we now know as Subsea7. In 2000 I took the plunge to start up my own company called Tech Tool. After meeting some of the current IK team through my work at these companies, I moved to IK in 2003 and have been there ever since.
Throughout my career I have always been learning. In this industry every day can be so different; new challenges to solve and ever evolving technology. That is where working at IK is so great. Any challenge we face we work our absolute hardest to provide the best solution for the client. It’s great to be part of a team of people who encourage each other and work so collaboratively together.
What was your first role at IK?
I have been working at IK for around 19 years now. I was originally hired to start-up the engineering department, get efficient processes in place and help grow the team. At that time, it was Christian Knutsen and I who were the two engineers driving everything. From then we hired more people and the team has kept growing. When I first started there were 8 people and now the Norway office alone has over 80 employees.
Since I started here, I have been working with almost every function in IK. Mostly mechanics, hydraulics and electronics in subsea but I have also been part of solving solutions topside too. My current role is mostly focusing on the big solutions and tool packages. As a Senior Specialist Engineer my goal is to make sure everyone does their best to get the greatest outcome for our client by working closely with my team and providing the knowledge I have. As part of my current role, I am also IP manager which means I assist with getting our tools patented. It involves a lot of paperwork, but it is an interesting process for sure.
That is really the beauty of IK, you get to be part of a wide range of areas and see projects through from the start to completion - I love it.
You talked about providing solutions for our clients, what sort of problems do clients come to you with and what is the process to finding the best solution?
Clients can come with a range of issues. Mostly leaks which may be caused by a crack in the pipeline, or the pipeline needs fixed due to wear and tear.
I can talk you through a project we recently completed. We had a call from a major operator because they had a crack in a pipeline which was split almost halfway through. My role was to figure out how we get access, seal the pipe and to clean everything around that all in the most efficient manner. We had to provide two different machines which could cut through steel and remove installation material. Once we figured that out, we needed two integrity clamps to hold the pipeline and seal it since it was almost open with the split. So when a client calls with an issue, we look at the whole picture and bring in all these different parts to accommodate where the problem is and to ensure it is delivered as quickly as necessary.
If we didn’t provide our innovative solutions to these problems, what are the consequences for the client?
That is an interesting question because that is where we are the money-saver for the client. Often the client would be forced to use bigger vessels or shut down their systems which can become ten times more expensive. If we look at the project I just spoke about with the cracked pipeline, if we did not provide our solution the client would have had to shut down the system, remove the pipeline and replace it. To do that we’re talking in billions compared to millions in price – a massive difference. We are here to ensure that our client is saving money, saving time and saving operational time without having to shut down for longer than is completely necessary.
In your 19 years at IK you have helped with countless projects. Are there any that stand out to you?
The one I mentioned earlier with the cracked pipeline was very interesting. We had to come up with a few different solutions and tools in order to get the best outcome.
I am not sure I have just one that stands out to me because they are all unique and bring many different challenges. I have been on projects with very short delivery times, and I have been on major projects which required multiple installations. The tools have also become really advanced now, for example, a tool we designed recently had a lot of functions just within the one tool. Seeing the fast-paced advancement in technology becoming a larger part of our projects is very interesting to me. Every day is a new challenge and I love it!
In your opinion, what are the top challenges facing our industry right now?
Right now, I would say it is the supply of material and in-turn that affects the prices, especially the price of aluminium, stainless steel or different alloys. That is particular to the nickel price which has gone up by 500% in the last year due to the instability of the world currently. This is making it hard to price the different parts we need to build these bespoke tools which I am involved with.
For IK, the biggest challenge is actually a positive one. We are rapidly growing due to a higher demand for our skills, which means the organisation as a whole, is getting bigger. That comes with its own challenges, but like I say it’s definitely a positive challenge which will bring new and exciting talent to the team, I look forward to it.
If you'd like to know more about IK's Capabilities, get in touch with Pål Espen Antonsen today!