Michael Makkai, Senior Operator Maintainer at Shell Energy’s Oakey Power Station, shares how he got his start in the energy industry and what it’s like to work at a ‘peaking’ power station.
I’m responsible for carrying out operations and maintenance activities relevant to the Shell Energy Power Station at Oakey, Queensland. This includes preventative and corrective maintenance, as well as project work and outage planning.
I have worked in the energy industry since the beginning of my career. I completed my apprenticeship at a power station in North-West Queensland and continued to work there for 10 years. I really enjoy working in the energy industry and wanted to remain in the sector. Shell Energy (formerly ERM Power) gave me the opportunity to further my experience.
Shell Energy in Australia operates two gas ‘peaking’ power stations at Oakey (300MW), Queensland and Neerabup (330MW), Western Australia. Gas ‘peaking’ power stations play a vital role in the transition to renewables by providing fast-ramping support for intermittent generation. To minimise environmental impact, ‘peaking’ power stations only run during times of peak energy demand. Our power stations are cooled by air or sea water and use little domestic fresh water. This is in contrast to many of Australia’s coal-fired power stations that use significant amounts of fresh water. At our Oakey Power Station, water discharge is reused for farmland irrigation.
We have a small crew of six onsite. We have a really close-knit team and I think we all have a genuine interest in supporting each other. It sounds a bit cliché, but it’s the people who make it a great place to work.
It’s a very enjoyable environment to work in and not a struggle finding the motivation to come to work. As far as workplaces go, this is a pretty good one!
I’ve been involved with two gas turbine major overhauls and a Distributed Control System upgrade which were both great experiences. A lot of hard work and planning went into these pieces of work, but it’s very rewarding once completed. These upgrades both improved the process efficiency and reliability of our Power Station, as well as greater control – all of which are vitally important to our operations.
Safety, compliance and operational procedure are an integral part of my role and an ethos of the power station team. I am passionate about making sure our units do exactly what they’re supposed to do, when they’re required to do it.
Be engaged and enjoy what you’re doing. I think this is the key to succeeding at anything.