Meet Process Engineer Marc Clithero

Here, Marc is pictured standing in front of a graphic representation of the major processing items in the Eskene West oil and gas processing facility.

16/20   in the series Meet the Process Engineers

Welcome to the latest in a series of AIChE blog posts profiling process engineers, a diverse group of professionals spanning multiple industries and regions. In this series, we aim to profile process engineers who work in fields as diverse as petrochemicals, pharma, bulk chemicals, food, and any process-intensive industry.

Are you a member and process engineer interested in being profiled? We'd love to hear from you via this volunteer opportunity. Also, we just launched an online discussion group specifically for process engineers. You can find out about both of these initiatives and join our efforts by visiting https://www.aiche.org/processengineering

This month, we introduce you to Marc Clithero. He is a process consultant at NCOC N.V. (North Caspian Operating Company N.V.).  He discusses his various roles within the plant, challenges presented by different environments, and the importance of process engineers in his line of work. 

Tell us a bit about your work as a process engineer.

Currently, I work within the Production Support Group for the Eskene West Facility in Kazakhstan (Near Atyrau). My role is to provide process input to projects that are ongoing within the plant.

My current projects include installing a new spent caustic treatment system, a new liquid sulphur degassing system, and installing air coolers.

I spend a lot of time at the operational facility talking with operators and scoping out the plant, either to see where the new unit will go/how to incorporate it within the existing facility, or to visually see what the issue is.

I also spend a lot of time in project teams reviewing contractor proposals, HAZOPs, HAZIDs etc.

I have worked in Middle Eastern deserts, North Seas, Scandinavia and now the vastness of Kazakhstan. All of the environments present different challenges. The role of the process engineer is to overcome these challenges and end up with a system that works in a safe, environmentally friendly, and profitable manner. 

Why did you become a process engineer?

When I was young, I was impressed by my uncle's stories of working around the Middle East on the oil rigs. When I went through school, I had an aptitude for math and chemistry. Physics was a bit of a struggle sometimes!

I eventually veered towards chemical engineering because I liked the sound of what was taught in universities which was more than just applied chemistry.

I was also interested in international travel with work so I could get to spend lots of time in different cultures and fully experience a different way of life.

Marc enjoys being on site.

What are some of the biggest challenges you face in your role as a process engineer?

Apart from site visits in the harsh Kazakh winter (temperatures can reach -30°C!), a lot of the challenges are getting the right designs for the environment.

I have worked in Middle Eastern deserts, North Seas, Scandinavia and now the vastness of Kazakhstan. All of the environments present different challenges. The role of the process engineer is to overcome these challenges and end up with a system that works in a safe, environmentally friendly, and profitable manner.

Different cultures can also present a challenge to get used to when working away from your normal home area.

How is your work as a process engineer critical to your particular job assignment or industry?

The importance of process engineers in the work I do is extremely critical. Only a process engineer has an understanding of the whole process, from a safety, operational, mechanical, economical, and control point of view.

We are the engineers who can communicate effectively with all other disciplines. During meetings I have been in, the question "What do Process think" (In our meetings we don’t use the word engineer. We just refer to the discipline i.e. process, mechanical etc.) is always asked!

What do you think is most important about what you do as a process engineer?

As a process engineer, I don't always see the benefit to society of the work I do apart from the job creation, etc. However, I know that the oil and gas being delivered from the facility I work in is in the best shape it can be. This will then be used in different industries, benefiting many people. It is part of my job to ensure that this continues.

Connect with Marc on AIChE Engage

Join the Process Engineering Discussion Community

Learn More