Phil Ireland has ridden-out a turbulent decade in Australia’s oil and gas sector, but the WA-based engineer is upbeat about the next wave of project construction, commissioning and operation.
A keen surfer in his spare time, Ireland is the business development manager for Clough’s oil and gas division and is driving new opportunities for the company to participate in key onshore and global projects.
Success has not come easily in the face of fiscal instability, high costs, increasing competition and raging carbon emissions debates. But, during his tenure, Clough has negotiated contracts for engineering, civil, structural, mechanical, electrical and instrumentation works in the Browse Basin, Anderson Point, South Flank near Newman and Surat in Queensland.
This work with the major miners, including Samsung, BHP, FMG, as well as integrated coal seam gas company Arrow Energy, has been complemented with service provision for global projects, including Sunrise Energy’s LNG project in South Africa and Pearl Petroleum’s Thailand wellhead processing platform.
Ireland has had close involvement with developing Clough’s international markets, including Dyno Nobel’s Ammonium Nitrate Production Facility Moranbah and Lynas’ Rare Earth Plant Malaysia. His roles range from management and coordination of design and procurement, through to onsite construction, commissioning and handover. He is also well versed in the management of international processes and detail engineering strategies for companies in France, India and Malaysia.
Negotiating multi-million dollar deals with some of the world’s biggest mining players is a far cry from Ireland’s early experiences growing up in Perth, the most isolated capital city in the world.
But, having a strong interest in engineering from an early age, he was quick to amass hands-on experience in WA’s chemicals, mining, minerals processing, power and building services after graduating from a mechanical engineering degree at Curtin University.
“I have been lucky enough during my career to have worked across Australia and South East Asia in various projects and for the full life cycle of development.
“This has given me a deep understanding of the effects that design and contractual decisions have on construction, commissioning and ongoing operations.”
Ireland’s professional career has spanned two decades of developments in iron ore, cogeneration power, nickel refining, ammonium nitrate, and rare earths.
His move to Clough in 2001 came at an opportune time to help manage project engineers during a period of strong investment and activity in key projects. This included the US$54 billion Chevron-operated Gorgon LNG fields, next generation LNG Studies for Woodside and decommissioning studies for Chevron and Quadrant.
Building on these experiences, he recently took on contract management for one of Clough’s key customers - Woodside – while simultaneously negotiating tenders for a range of new work. This includes targeted project delivery solutions for the oil and gas, mining, and infrastructure industries in Australia, Asia, PNG, Africa, UK and North America.
“What gets me out of bed every day is the challenge of bringing-in new clients and developing opportunities for Clough, as well as providing a contact point for all of our existing clients to make sure we are delivering as promised.”
On the weekend, there is little time to kick-back. Ireland has two children, aged 10 and 7, who keep him and his wife busy with a range of sports commitments. Not one to sit on the sidelines, he has been quick to pull on the boots to coach junior AFL and basketball. The family takes holidays when time allows, regularly visiting favourite spots in WA’s South West region, the Gold Coast and Indonesia – which coincidently have top surf breaks.
With some recent breathing space in his professional and home life, Ireland decided to join the PCWA. His face is not unfamiliar, as he has been a strong supporter and event delegate for the past two years.
“I wanted to step up my involvement in the organisation, as I value the opportunity it provides to connect with a wide range of operators and contractors in an informal manner.
“It is also great to give something back to industry by participating in opportunities that help educate the next generation of young professionals.”