Only someone completely committed to their work, and always ready to constantly extend their knowledge, could make the transition from simple laboratory assistant to Head of the Chemical Analysis Section, Gazpromneft Muravlenko. Olga Shorokhova, however, is one such individual, not only leading a team of 140 specialists but also taking an active role in Gazprom Neft’s international Badra project.
‘For many children, chemistry is one of their least favourite subjects. I was no exception. Nonetheless, for me studying chemistry in school became, you might say, a matter of honour.
When I started learning this complex discipline in seventh grade, everything was incomprehensible to me. I would look at all these signs and formulae with nothing less than a shudder. But I didn’t want to get egg on my face.
I began studying chemistry on my own, taking extra-mural courses and studying privately with a teacher to whom I am, to this day, very grateful. I was able to overcome my difficulties and chemistry ultimately captivated me so completely that I have been involved in it my entire life.’
‘I came to Muravlenko as an experienced specialist — I had some experience under my belt working at the Tyumen Institute of Geology, and at the Tyumen State University Ecology Department. Nonetheless, I had absolutely no experience in oil production, and so had to start from that very limited background. Many of the nuances of production I had to work out from scratch, as a simple a lab technician. I undertook complex analyses, and suggested new directions for work in the laboratory. Management noticed this.
Within a year I had become a first-grade engineer in the hydro-dynamic laboratory, which existed within the plant at that time — yet another not insignificant experience, which was, subsequently, to stand me in good stead.
Thereafter I was appointed Senior Engineer within the Scientific Research Section, being appointed to lead it within one year. And by 2004, when the Chemical Analysis Section was established, I had been entrusted with managing it.
I found it easy learning to take responsibility for other people, and so have never been afraid of this and was always been ready for it. What proved most difficult was pulling together a massive team — we had 180 people in the section in those days. It was essential to bring people together around a single philosophy. We were united in wanting to position the section at the forefront of our field, completely up to date with developments in the section, so that — for the professionals working here — nothing was impossible.
I always tell my team ‘Every single one of your ideas — even if, at first glance, it looks crazy, will be considered. If there’s some rational basis for it, we’ll implement it — even if we can only to do so in the longer term. That’s how we tend to work, as a rule — with an eye on the longer term.
Thanks to my original profession — as well as working in what is a new field for me, well research — I have a strong appreciation of our oilmen’s needs. Hardly any of them have any deep understanding of chemistry, but they do have a thorough appreciation of technical problems. And when, today, they come to me, I can provide the necessary assistance and provide a way out of a situation.’
An incentive for constant improvement
‘I, as an individual, am passionate about my work — a fanatic. For precisely that reason I try to set myself new tasks and challenges every day.
Right now, for example, I’m involved in the international ‘Badra’ project — I just couldn’t pass up such an opportunity. For me it’s a completely new level, a very interesting experience. Added to which, there’s the opportunity to study Arabian oil which, hitherto, we’d only read about in books.
I have, in my time, studied a great deal of data on oil from Western Siberia, so now I want to do the same with Iraqi oil, and compare the two. And using the English language to get to know a completely different world is incredibly interesting.
Of course, I have very little time, but I know how to manage it effectively. If I can manage such a large team, I can certainly manage my own life!’
Olga Shorokhova was born in 1958 and graduated from Tyumen State University in 1980. She began her professional career as an engineer, before working as a researcher at the Western Siberian Research Institute of Geology and Geophysics. In 1987 she was appointed a senior researcher at Tyumen State University. From 1996 she worked as a laboratory assistant, a class 1 well research engineer, a senior engineer and Head of the Scientific Research and Production Section. In 2004 she was appointed Head of the Chemical Analysis Section at subsidiary Muravlenkskneft (now Gazpromneft Muravlenko). She has been a deputy of the Muravlenko city government (Duma) since 2006. Her work has been recognised by the Ministry of Energy of the Russian Federation, and her work on local extraction projects recognised by Gazpromneft Muravlenko, at which she is also recognised as a long-serving employee.