mgc in motion > papua new guinea > working life

working life

The project teams are broken down into six categories. All of the teams work across the three camps and are responsible for smaller satellite teams who control the locally sourced staff.

Project Teams
The responsibility of my team was to clear 6 kms of rainforest for a spur pipeline which was to join the main pipeline.

1. Project Management
2. Construction Management
3. H&S Team
4. Environmental Team
5. Security
6. Health

I was the only Englishman in a staff made up of 35 different nationalities ranging from Indonesia to Central Asia, Europe, North, Central and South America, Australia and New Zealand. The Construction company is French owned so all managerial positions are French. English is the national language of Papua New Guinea and was used as the main language for communication.

Upon my arrival at Port Moresby I had to undergo an induction and safety briefing. At the end of the briefing I was told I had to complete a defensive driving course at 5.30 am the following morning. First time I have ever had a test at 5.30 am. Once I had passed my driving test, I was taken by helicopter to Gobe camp. My home for the next 10 weeks was to be a converted shipping container (I never realised they has so many uses) where I was provide with everything from clothing to toiletries and malaria pills. I had been travelling for 6 days so it was nice to finally unpack my bags once and for all.

My working day started at 5.30 am and ended at 5.45 pm. Breakfast was served from 4.00 am to 5.00 am and evening meals were served from 6.00 pm to 7.00 pm. Lunch was eaten in the forest at midday.

This was where I had my first view of the scale and size of this project. Each camp has been set up with the infrastructure of a large town; fences, roads, communications, eating facilities, security, airstrips, helicopter pads, workshops, water purification plants, medical centres, clothing stores, offices, spare parts, equipment parks. vehicle parked as far as the eye could see.

Everything in the camp is recycled and no different to our own council recycling. Absolutely nothing is thrown away. We even had to use spill pads when filling up our chainsaws in the forest. Old oil is disposed of and converted into by-products. Rubbish is incinerated and anything that can’t be burnt is removed from site. The scale of this project and the money involved is very impressive.

Logistical Issues
When I arrived we were in the middle of the rainy season so everything was very wet. It continued to rain for another 4 weeks which caused major problems. The main road was flooded to a depth of over 2 metres for 5 weeks causing huge logistical problems. Food had to be flown in by helicopter and aeroplane supplying just enough food for the 400 staff who lived in my compound

The consumption of diesel is impressive when you think a Komatsu PC 300 excavator thirty ton machine needs 500 litres of diesel to run for 2 days. Multiply this by 100 machines excluding a fleet of lorries, and you are looking at a requirement for more than half a million litres of diesel every day, not forgetting spares, food, and day to day running of the camps. Very impressive amounts when you consider my work van in the UK uses around 80 litres of diesel a week.

Heavy lift Chinook's were used to bring in high value and urgent equipment (payloads of 6-7 tons). Diesel had to be brought in from the coast due to the amount required. The rainfall caused such a large problem and for one week all machines were at a standstill and the generators running the camps came very close to running out of diesel. A few dry days allowed some supplies to get through diesel being the first to keep the camp running with electric which was more important for the refrigeration of all the food.Food would damage in hours in the heat.I once made a mistake of keeping some milk in my room for a few days in a cup under the sink. I left it for 24 hours and when I came back I noticed the whole area had eggs laid in and all around the milk ready to hatch, luckily I found it in time and was able to clean the whole area and get rid of the milk before the eggs all hatched.