Click here to print page

Garfield Irvin: Marine Terminal Manager

Marine navigation officer takes up role at NFE after Middle East tour

Sunday, January 20, 2019

New Fortress Energy (NFE) began Jamaica's transition from heavy, costly and emissions-laden diesel to Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) back in 2016 when it converted the 120-megawatt Bogue power plant in Montebo Bay operated by Jamaica Public Service from diesel to natural gas.

The state-of-the-art LNG terminal also provides LNG to rganisations like Red Stripe.

Subsequent to that, New Fortress completed the offshore LNG regasification terminal in Old Harbour to provide natural gas to the power company's new 190-megawatt power plant in Old Harbour Bay, and is now in the process of constructing the 94-megawatt natural gas-fired power plant at Jamalco in Halse Hall, Clarendon.

Since its entry into Jamaica, the company has created numerous job opportunities, mainly in the STEM discipline (science, technology, engineering and math). One such is marine terminal manager, a business leader and risk management employee entrusted with managing all aspects of a terminal's business, including operations, maintenance, customer stakeholder relations and budgeting.

Thirty 30-year-old Garfield Irvin (GI) is marine terminal manager for the regasification LNG plant, a position he has held for the past two years. Career & Education (C&E) sat down with the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) graduate to learn about his passion for the career field that has allowed him to travel the world while playing his small part helping countries make big strides transforming their energy sector to natural gas.

 

 

C&E: What is your role as marine terminal manager at New Fortress Energy?

GI: My role is to lead the operations at the Old Harbour LNG Terminal which was just recently constructed. I am therefore the local representative for the company, charged with managing the operations and maintenance of the facility. By nature of its location and construction, the marine terminal is offshore and as such needs to be managed by someone with a marine background and the necessary experience and prerequisites.

In general, as the marine terminal manager, I am the main point of contact between the Floating Storage Regasification Unit (FSRU) and the customer to which the natural gas is being supplied, ensuring that their demands are being met by the LNG terminal within the boundaries of the various contractual agreements.

 

C&E: Sounds like a big job. What are your qualifications for this role?

GI: I'm a marine navigation officer by profession, qualified in the order of STCW II/2 Master/ Chief Mate 3000 GT or more, which means I'm at the management level and licensed to operate and manage ships and their crew of unlimited sizes. This works in conjunction with my degree in nautical sciences, plus a host of other certifications that I've done to obtain my licence at the higher management level in marine navigation.

 

C&E: Did you always want a career in marine navigation?

GI: My first love was aviation, and as a boy, I dreamt of becoming an airline pilot. However, after being introduced to navigation, my interest in travel by air slowly shifted to travel by sea – a transition that brought me to the gates of Caribbean Maritime University (formerly Caribbean Maritime Institute) in September 2007 where I pursued a course in marine navigation and nautical sciences. I chose this general field of study because of my love for travel, exploration and the art and science deeply-rooted in getting a vessel from one location to another.

 

C&E: Speaking of traveling, we hear you spent some time in the Middle East. Tell us about that.

GI: I spent some time in Europe, Israel, Qatar, Kuwait and for my last three years I was in Dubai. Adapting to the Middle Eastern culture was at first a culture shock, it being nine hours away from what I'm used to in Jamaica, especially as a country boy from Port Maria, St Mary, where I lived with my parents and older siblings. In the end, my time there was unmatched and being part of supplying the LNG sector in Dubai was the turning point in my career.

On the one hand, it was very challenging, but the outcome and all that I learnt far outweighed the challenges. In one of the biggest projects that I was a part of for example, we had to replace the Golar Freeze with my previous vessel for which I was the chief officer. This was because of the rapid growth of the LNG industry there. Not only did we successfully complete the project, but we also reached a major milestone of achieving the world's highest re-gas send-out at that time. It was a big accomplishment for me and a great opportunity to have been part of that project.

Outside of work, I also had a chance to explore and do everything there was to do in Dubai, from touring the Burj Khalifa, the Dubai Frame in Zabeel Park, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, visit all the desert safaris, sky diving over the Palm Jumeirah island, as well as dining in the seven-star Burj Al Arab and other fine restaurants; I was able to balance work and making time for me.

 

C&E: Why did you come back to Jamaica, and how did you come to be at New Fortress Energy?

GI: Having travelled and explored the world for 10 years, starting fresh out of the maritime academy, I wanted to return home and focus on growing my career here and starting a family. So, when I received an email from the then VP of HR in 2017 inviting me to Skype interview, it was like destiny calling. However, I was about to board a flight to Dubai when I got the email, so I asked that the call be rescheduled to after I get to New York. Fortunately, since I was planning on being in New York for two weeks before heading to Dubai, New Fortress was able to invite me to a face-to-face meeting at their New York office. It was a very good meeting and when I heard their plans for Jamaica and the thought that I could be a part of this historic transformation and growth and development in my country, it was an easy decision for me to officially return to Jamaica, and as they say, the rest is history.

 

C&E: What is a typical day on the job for you?

It might sound cliché, but there really is no typical day on the job for me. It's a dynamic yet extremely exciting job that requires a great deal of flexibility and resourcefulness. My day can entail any, if not all of the following: going into office at our onshore receiver and metering facility to check in with our control room operators, meetings with the plant managers of the power plants that we supply with natural gas, journeying out for a four-mile boat ride offshore to our marine terminal in Portland Bight, and meetings with the captain and operators of the FSRU that is moored to our terminal. To sum it all up, I must have full oversight from receipt of LNG into the FSRU's storage tanks to the production of natural gas for routing through our subsea pipelines, and finally metering and sale of the product to our various customers, so my day can be very hectic.

 

C&E: What is the latest project you're working on?

We recently completed construction of our FSRU regasification LNG terminal in Old Harbour, and a historic moment to date for us and the country in general, was the arrival of the Golar Freeze in Jamaica last December. The Golar Freeze is the floating regasification vessel that will service the terminal, making the Old Harbour terminal the regasification hub in the region. We're now in the process of fully commissioning the terminal then further commissioning the JPS 190-megawatt power plant which will use LNG as its base. It has been a lot of hard work and hectic days, but we have a great team, led by my boss, Simon Duncan. All in all, it has been extremely rewarding to see the progress we've made as well as knowing that we're playing an integral role in driving the transformation of Jamaica's energy sector.

 

C&E: How does your job integrate with the community?

GI: My job integrates with the community very well with the main benefit being the creation of job opportunities for the community members. Since I've started in Old Harbour, I've seen where a lot of people from the community have gained employment in one area or the other with the company. Case in point: out of a total of 15 team members, four of them are from and live in the Old Harbour area. It also provides exposure in that it has put Old Harbour on the map. Before, Old Harbour was known only for fishing; but now, it will also be known for the NFE terminal as this will be the hub for the region.

 

C&E: from your perspective, what does the LNG sector mean for Jamaica?

GI: The importance of LNG to Jamaica cannot be overstated. At a national level, Jamaica and Jamaicans will benefit from cleaner, more affordable energy having transitioned from using the heavier, more costly fuel. But undoubtedly too, Jamaica will occupy a bigger space on the global map because we will also be known for LNG. In the next few years, Jamaica will transition to the whole concept of being the hub where you have vessels coming in for bunkering and with NFE using Jamaica as its central place to dispatch cargo to other terminals in the region. The ripple effect from this of course is making Jamaica even more attractive for foreign direct investment, which leads to more job opportunities and overall more growth for the country.

 

C&E: Finally, how does someone qualify or prepare for this field?

GI: After leaving sixth form, I studied at CMU, which taught me a lot in the general area of marine navigation. But all my LNG experience was gained from being onboard LNG vessels, coupled with several LNG certificate courses to support my hands-on experience. So, my advice to people looking to come into this field is to get as much exposure as they possibly can onboard LNG tankers in addition to studying. As you can see, more and more countries are turning to LNG as their alternative source of energy, which means the LNG sector is very promising and holds a lot of job opportunities now and well into the future.