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Navigating Down an Insightful Career Path

04 May 2012

Having been a navigator in the Merchant Navy for 12 years and recently honoured with the highly-coveted Outstanding Contribution Award from Subsea UK, it is fair to say that Jerry Baker, head of lifecycle management at international engineering and design consultancy Atkins, has had an insightful career path.

The subsea industry body recently honoured Jerry, 61, who works between Atkins’ Aberdeen and Newcastle offices, for his achievements over the course of 40 years, during which he has continually pushed the boundaries.

In particular, he has championed the development and awareness of subsea integrity and authorised the industry’s first guidelines in this area.

Integrity management is a ‘buzz phrase’ heard within the North Sea as a result of optimising production from aging assets.

But, as Jerry explained, this is not a new area of interest for him and has proved something of a constant throughout his career, having been involved in it from a very early stage.

"I gained a PhD in Offshore Engineering from Strathclyde University which led to working for JP Kenny in Aberdeen during the late 1980s,” said Jerry.

"I was a design consultant there for six years and wrote design guidelines, of which integrity management was a part.

"However, integrity management was relatively unknown back then, as only inspection and corrosion activity was relevant, making it the poor relation in a way.”

Jerry was one of only a few people dealing with this and had papers published on the subject.

"Times, and offshore assets, have naturally moved on from there and this has now developed into something of a hot topic,” said Jerry.

"It has been very interesting for me to see this activity go full circle, to a point where getting every last penny out of an asset in the best possible way is a pressing issue for most operators.”

Progressing up the career ladder, Jerry worked with installation contractor McDermott Marine Construction Ltd, where he headed up the front-end project team and found that integrity management was again part of the picture.

From here he went to Shell Expro, where latterly he was discipline head for pipeline engineering, and then for Boreas Consultants where he became head of lifecycle management which effectively rolled reliability and integrity into one job.

Due to his expertise, 2008 saw the Energy Institute (EI) approach him to be lead author of its guidelines for the management of integrity of subsea facilities, subsequently made the basis for British Standard PD8010-Part Four on pipeline integrity management, which he worked on alongside his colleagues.

He also led the establishment of guidelines for the management of obsolescence in subsea facilities, sponsored by Subsea UK to effectively provide a framework for reliability assessment.

"As the oil and gas industry matures and an increased focus is placed on subsea systems, there is undoubtedly a need for these guidelines to reassure the industry and move in sync with the market’s ever-changing demands,” said Jerry who said he was humbled to receive the Outstanding Contribution Award.

"I’m currently working on a variety of exciting projects,” he added.

"We have just issued the final report on our COINS joint industry project which looks at the value of drilling down to root causes in the conduct of risk assessment (supported by BP, Chevron, Nexen and Total).

"I’ve also been looking at the methods required for integrity monitoring of high pressure/high temperature pipelines in deep water. No day is ever the same.”