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The man for unique projects

Updated: Jul 29, 2023

This post is adapted from an article on my previous company's (Petrofac) website:

I am known and have a reputation for dealing with unique projects as well as complex ones. Since joining Petrofac more than 14 years ago, I managed an oil field redevelopment project in Abu Dhabi, ran an offshore marginal gas field development in Malaysia, oversaw the upgrading of a semi-submersible floating production rig in Gdansk, Poland, and worked as Project Director (joint) at Al Taweelah, the first alumina refinery in the UAE.

I was interviewed for the company website about my career journey during my time with the company around the time of my 10-year service with the company.

Mark Cowley Coaching a young PM
Mark Cowley Coaching a young PM

Mark, what has been your greatest achievement in your time at Petrofac? The project I am proudest of is the Berantai Marginal Gas Field Development project in Malaysia. We delivered an FPSO, wellhead platform, and subsea infrastructure for the Berantai field off the East Coast of Malaysia in a world-class benchmark schedule. Engineering was performed in the Petrofac Woking (UK) office, procurement in Sharjah (UAE), fabrication of the wellhead platform in Malaysia, and FPSO conversion in Singapore. I was fortunate to have three high-performing teams who worked tirelessly to deliver the project to such a short schedule. This project won the ‘Driven to Deliver’ Petrofac EVE Award in 2013 as well as Oil & Gas Year Malaysia Marginal Field Development 2013.

Mark Cowley at Al Taweelah Alumina Refinery Project
Mark Cowley at Al Taweelah Alumina Refinery Project

What is your highlight moment? The day the Berantai FPSO sailed away from Singapore is perhaps my best memory. It marked the end of an intense period in my career and a great achievement.

Al Taweelah Alumina Refinery is also one of the most memorable and challenging projects I have been on and achievement of first Alumina in March 2019 was the culmination of more than five years of effort by the Bechtel Petrofac joint venture, a unique pairing and arrangement that I am also tremendously proud of.

Mark Cowley Office
Mark Cowley Office

I have fond memories of so many amazing people that I have worked with and I try to stay in touch with many of them.

"I am excited by, and try and find ways to get involved in the digital transformation initiative sweeping the industry and being developed by Petrofac." How has the industry changed over the last decade and what are the main differences? In the last ten years, the industry has been buffeted by global economic and geopolitical events such as the financial crisis in late 2008, just after I joined Petrofac, and more recently, the Covid-19 pandemic and resultant global economic slowdown. Both the industry and Petrofac have had to cope with changes and a massive cutback in capital expenditure by all our clients.

I am excited by, and try and find ways to get involved in the digital transformation initiative sweeping the industry and being developed by Petrofac. From 2020 until the end of 2022, I was supporting Petrofac’s efforts to develop our offering and presence in the renewable energy market.

How has your role changed over the last 14 years? I joined Petrofac at an exciting time of expansion in 2008 and was fortunate enough to be selected as the Project Director for the ASAB FFD project, the largest project in the company at the time.

I have been fortunate to be assigned to, involved in and lead a wide range of interesting and exciting projects throughout my career.

I continue to develop myself as a leader. Over the past couple of years, I got interested in authentic leadership and how to apply it to project teams.

I hope to continue to be involved in delivering interesting and challenging projects such as those in the renewable market. I also hope to be able to pass on some of my knowledge and experience to younger generations, especially young project managers and directors.

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