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In Pursuit to Master Petroleum Engineering
Stephanie Manoi pictured at the University of Adelaide says she is determined to succeed in her studies despite the unusual start to the academic year. Picture supplied.

In Pursuit to Master Petroleum Engineering

Kumul Petroleum Engineer Stephanie Manoi departed Papua New Guinea for Australia earlier this year, to pursue a 21-month scholarship that will see her achieve a Master’s Degree.

Soon after the semester had begun, Covid-19 restrictive measures came into effect. But the restrictions have not deterred Ms Manoi from her studies, who said that it has in fact become a further learning experience.

“In terms of studies, it has been full on since day one. Some of the courses are structured as short, intensive programs, so it has really pushed me to change my study/work habits”.

Ms Manoi said that despite this, studying from home however, also has its challenges. With the restrictions, most of the teaching/learning delivery and assessments had to be revised - this meant a lot more assignments, research and reading. Coping with the assessment workload and study demands is a challenge, thus, time management and prioritisation of tasks has become crucial. 

“All in all, I am grateful for where I am, and hope to get the most out of this experience”, Ms Manoi said.

For the first 18 months Ms Manoi will be studying for her Master’s Degree in Petroleum Engineering at the University of Adelaide, and once she’s completed her studies, she will be undertaking a 3-month internship with Santos, a leading independent oil and gas producer in the Asia-Pacific region.

“My employer Kumul Petroleum nominated me for the scholarship. Australia Awards (DFAT) and Santos cover travel arrangements, tuition fees and living allowances. Kumul Petroleum provides financial support during my studies in Australia”.

Ms Manoi, who hails from Manus and New Ireland Province said that when she told her family and friends that she was going away for studies they were elated by the news and saw it as a great achievement.  “It was also encouraging for my younger siblings who are still at school,” she adds.

“I have been employed by Kumul Petroleum for the past three years. The first two years as a graduate engineer under the company’s Graduate Development Program. Following the end of this program, I joined the company on a full-time contract as a Petroleum Engineer.”

Eddie Guru, Technical Manager at Kumul Petroleum and Ms Manoi’s direct supervisor describes her transition from Graduate Development Program Trainee /Engineer to a Master’s Program student:

“Stephanie is a fast learner and I have had to fast track her training and development plan to a junior engineer level. Because her original qualification is Mining Engineering, she has had to work doubly hard to grasp the fundamentals of Petroleum Engineering and, she has done that successfully. The few years of training should put her in good stead to undertake the Master’s program at the University of Adelaide. She also has mentoring available from our partners in this program, Santos, so I am positive she will complete her studies successfully”.

The 27 year-old says she was most excited about her return to student life, “I expected that returning to the classroom environment will be totally different and quite challenging. But it’s a great opportunity to study alongside other engineers from different backgrounds. Some may have years of experience in the industry so it will give me good exposure to the industry outside of PNG.”

Despite the challenges so far, Ms Manoi says that during her stay in Australia, she hopes to gain a broader understanding and appreciation of the petroleum industry and develop an international network with other engineers.

“It will also be interesting to experience life in a multicultural society. There will be people from different cultures and backgrounds. Learning to live and interact with them will be an important part of living in Australia”.

“My only other trips overseas have been work related so far, attending meetings, conferences and training in Singapore, Japan and Australia. The longest duration was about a week for software training in Japan. This experience will be completely different.”

Ms Manoi says that she is most grateful for the sponsors DFAT and Santos for making her study possible. She said she also considers herself lucky to work for a company that values the training and development of its national staff and is willing to provide all the necessary support to ensure individuals are successful.

“I’m sure I will come back to PNG as a more competent and confident engineer. In the short term sending myself and other engineers overseas to learn gives a boost to Kumul Petroleum’s technical capacity. In the long term it increases the capability of PNG nationals to take up senior roles in key industries and paves the way for developing Papua New Guinea for Papua New Guineans.”

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