VALUED: Tony Larsen and Louwrens Nolke at Northern Oil.
VALUED: Tony Larsen and Louwrens Nolke at Northern Oil. Mike Richards GLA150917NOIL

Northern Oil's first GAGAL trainee is on the rise

THE first trainee at Northern Oil refinery to land employment through a recruitment service now dreams of taking on more senior roles.

Technical officer Tony Larsen was employed at the Yarwun refinery with Gladstone Area Group Apprentices Limited and finished his two-year traineeship at the company six months ago.

"The best part was working on the plant," Mr Larsen said.

"Because it is a smaller refinery, you get a lot of experience in a lot of different areas."

Mr Larsen trained for a year-and-a-half and completed tasks which involved trouble shooting and plant logistics (loading and unloading trucks from products).

The Northern Oil Advanced Biofuels Pilot Plant was opened by Southern Oil in 2017, and will be the first of its kind in Queensland to produce clean energy biofuel.

Mr Larsen worked alongside duty operators and engineers while studying a Certificate III in process plant operations.

"They have opportunities to go to senior technical officer, so a leading hand role, and also duty controller, which is panel operations here," he said.

"They are my goals for the future."

He also worked with very qualified engineers, operators, and duty controllers.


Tony Larsen at Northern Oil.
Tony Larsen at Northern Oil. Mike Richards GLA150917NOIL

Northern Oil production manager Louwrens Nolke, a chemical engineer who has worked for Australian and Dutch companies, said Mr Larsen was "very well established" as a trainee.

Mr Nolke said even though Mr Larsen's prior experience wasn't so relevant, he was certainly showing good potential.

"What I noticed foremost was that Tony was already on a fairly equal level with his other operators," Mr Nolke said.

"Some operators would've been here for two or three years, and Tony was working alongside them doing similar tasks.

"He showed a good level of maturity, probably more than you'd expect after such a short period."

The refinery has two process technician trainees almost constantly.

"It's good to see young guys from school or those with a few years of work experience to see them pick up that interest and enthusiasm for the industry," Mr Nolke said.

"I was probably worried about other things at that age and you see young fellas really giving it their best and it's good to see how quickly they'll learn and adapt to the environment."

GAGAL oversees the recruitment process, and is flexible when it comes to appointment arrangements during day and night times.

"The other great feature during the traineeship is we can decide whether or not to continue at any given time," Mr Nolke said.

"With the guys who came out of high school, it's hard to say whether after six months they'll be attaining the level you'd expect.

"The good thing about the GAGAL arrangement is that in our case it was for two years and it gives you a lot longer time to expose people to the industry to see whether they can live up to the expectations."

Mr Nolke said the GAGAL system was very good for getting young people employed, and also took some pressure off the company by relieving most administration duties.

"I really love this set-up and we want to use trainees in the future," he said.

The company is looking at bringing in a third trainee.

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