Chris Austin – Business Development Manager / Pipelines Manager, Enscope
Chris Austin’s 20-year journey in the oil and gas industry began in 2001 where he worked as an undergraduate engineer with GasNet (now an APA-owned entity) which operated and maintained the Victorian gas transmission system.
“My vacation work transitioned into a permanent role and I was greatly appreciative of the many experienced people in that business that took time to mentor me in technical, commercial and project management aspects,” he said.
After being exposed to compressor stations, a network of pipelines, city gate facilities and an on-site LNG facility, Chris settled into the Pipelines Department working on pigging and pipeline relocation projects.
After 5+ years in gas transmission, Chris left GasNet to take on a new challenge in the mining sector, requiring the upgrade of a floating dredge and wet separator unit that was decommissioned and transported from Eneabba, WA to Mildura (Victoria) and Broken Hill (NSW) for refurbishment and ultimately installation and decommissioning at a remote mineral sands mine site in south-west NSW.
“We worked a 13-day on, one-day off roster and after only having 12 days off in six months I was happy to receive a call from Nacap offering me a role on their upcoming DBNGP Pipeline Stage 4 Looping Project,” he said.
Starting in a temporary project office in Perth, Chris moved to site in 2006, working on the looping of nine sections of the DBNGP pipeline from Gingin through to Fortescue.
“Witnessing a cross country pipeline spread in full swing was a great experience and I was able to save some money for a year of travelling before starting on a pipeline project in Wales with Nacap UK in 2007,” he said.
“The project in Wales was on a different scale to my Australian experience to that point; a 48-inch pipeline through rolling hills, regularly changing ground conditions and a few protesters along the way.”
Following the completion of the gas pipeline in Wales, Chris went into the petrochemical industry working with Foster Wheeler UK for almost two years at its Reading office and ExxonMobil’s Singapore Chemical Plant at Jurong Island.
“This was my first venture into the world of projects north of $1 billion and it was certainly a different experience, just in sheer scale and numbers of people (and personalities) involved. After a couple of years I took another year out to travel and ultimately return to Australia,” he said.
Chris went back to Melbourne and re-commenced working with Nacap in a commercial role for Epic Energy’s QSN3 Pipeline Project. “Nacap constructed over 900km of pipeline from Roma to Moomba and it was great to be part of a major project in Australia again,” he said. After QSN3, Chris moved to WA in 2012 and worked in estimating and project management roles within Nacap.
Nacap’s parent company, Quanta Services, purchased Enscope and Chris began working for the company in 2016. “Enscope is a project management and engineering design consultancy working to deliver energy projects for our growing client list,” he said. “We have strong in-house experience and expertise in onshore gas processing, pipelines, compression and facilities and a growing expertise in hydrogen.”
Enscope is often engaged early in the project lifecycle and we can deliver engineering, procurement and construction management (EPCM) as well as commissioning, with the recent addition of an electrical trades division. “In the past 12 months, Enscope has grown its in-house engineering team by almost 50% as we're seeing a big increase in opportunities from our client base,” Chris said.
“For myself and our senior management team, this provides a great challenge to support our team to deliver on our projects and continue securing a steady stream of work from our busy client base to support our growing team.”
Chris works on a variety of projects including within LNG, hydrogen, upstream gas, and renewables. “A project that has been a favourite in my time with Enscope is the Waitsia projects,” he said. “Enscope delivered the first two wellheads and tie-ins for AWE (now Mitsui E&P) and subsequent compression upgrade and export pipeline under EPCM engagements.
“Being part of the team developing these projects from their inception through to final handover has been really rewarding for myself and many others in our business and we've been fortunate enough to deliver similar projects with Beach Energy in recent years as well.”
Chris feels his greatest achievement has been “developing and nurturing” a pipeline engineering team from scratch at Enscope.
Being part of a high-performing team that are driven to succeed is what motivates Chris. “Now that I'm aging, and with a number of younger engineers in my team, I really enjoy sharing my experiences and knowledge and watching their growth as they pursue their own journeys,” he said. “I am also motivated by the ability to work with our senior leaders and learn and grow both personally and professionally.”
Chris joined the Energy Club a year ago and enjoys the opportunities it provides for members to hear from key industry participants, including business leaders, technical experts and government, about current challenges within oil and gas.
When Chris isn’t working, he enjoys spending time with his two children and playing sports including football, cricket, and capoeira, a Brazilian martial art that combines elements of dance, acrobatics, and music. He also volunteers with the Fathering Group at his children’s school. “It is a great way to bounce parenting ideas off other dads and to hold some fun activities that create long-lasting memories with my children,” he said.
Chris has had the opportunity to travel throughout the world, including South America, Europe and Africa, as well as within Australia, and hopes to continue to do so with his children.