The day we found traces of mercury in the gas
Six months after the start-up of the production, I remember it was on a Friday evening, we received a call from Shell. They had just found traces of mercury in our gas above the contractual specifications and informed us that production had to be cut in half. As it was the crucial first years of production, any shortfall was very harmful. So, that was very bad news for the team. We reacted immediately, initiated actions and brought in a specialised team from Norway to perform analysis on each well and to identify the source of the problem.
In parallel, we purchased a specific type of activated carbon and put it in an existing vessel in order to absorb the mercury. We managed to change the situation in less than twenty days, a record time! Soon afterwards, we came back to a normal production level. I remember some very hectic times. We were a small team with a clear and common purpose. We could respond quickly. I was the field operation engineer and I was one of the youngest in the team. I arrived well before the start-up of the production in 1997, as everything had to be prepared.
That was the fascinating and challenging part of it: we were a subsidiary that had never produced! There was no structure and no support: everything had to be created because we could not rely on anything that already existed.