Following in his father’s footsteps, Benson became fascinated with petroleum products and how they could be mined to help power technology that would better people’s lives. After completing an internship at BMD Group, Benson landed his dream job as a Production Engineer at Santos, an Australian oil and gas exploration and production company.

Describe your life growing up in Nairobi, Kenya.

Life in Kenya was very interesting. I grew up in Nairobi and was in boarding school in primary school (from 11 years old) through to high school, so my childhood was mostly spent away from home. I enjoyed playing football, swimming, listening to music and hiking.

Being in boarding school helped me to be independent early in my life and get organised. This came in handy when I relocated to Australia for university where I had no one to follow me up on attending classes or completing assignments.


Why did you decide to study Petroleum Engineering at university?

Petroleum Engineering had been on my radar during my last years of high school and the subject matter looked very interesting.

My father had worked as a mechanical engineer at a petroleum refinery in Kenya and this fascinated me. I wanted to learn more about petroleum products and where they came from. Kenya recently discovered deposits and I thought it would be great if I could one day work in my own country and help mine our natural resources.


Why did you decide to study in Australia?

I researched several universities around the world that offered Petroleum Engineering. Europe and the US were popular education destinations for Kenyan students, however, I wanted to see what Australia had to offer. I enrolled into the University of Adelaide which was a top-ranking university that offered Petroleum Engineering.

Petroleum Engineering students

What were your impressions of Adelaide when you arrived?

Adelaide was a very quiet and relaxed city which made it very suitable for study. My favourite places in Adelaide were Adelaide High School (to watch the 7v7 football matches on the weekends), Brighton Beach to watch sunsets, and the Windy Point Lookout for beautiful views.


What are your strengths and weaknesses?

My strength is that I am an avid learner with a keen sense of curiosity. I always ask questions and try to learn something new. My weakness is that I sometimes get lost in detail which may slow down my productivity.


Tell us the challenges you faced during your studies and how you overcame them.

The biggest challenge during my time at university was the negative stares I received from other people because of what I was studying.  Climate activism was at its height (and still is today) and there were frequent protests against mining our earth’s resources but that did not deter me from pursuing this career. A lot of the technology we use today relies on oil and gas to work. It’s about mining those resources with minimal impact on the environment.

Studying away from home was fun but there were also times when I got homesick and missed home. Covid did not make things any easier. Finding work as an international student was also not easy but I never gave up and applied to as many places as I could. I did get work and opportunities followed on with help from the people I met.

Describe your past and current jobs.

  • OTR Petrol Stations

For about 4 years, while I was studying, I worked part time at the OTR Petrol Stations. I was responsible for customer service and counting, ordering and replenishing stock. It was my first job in Australia, and I enjoyed getting to meet and serve different people.

  • BMD Group

I then completed an 8-month internship at BMD Group which was a national group of companies engaged in engineering design, construction and land development.

I found the BMD internship on LinkedIn. Fortunately, my friend was already working there and he helped me apply for the role.

I was involved in subdivision projects which involved making material orders and plant hire, handling designs from consultants and ensuring those designs were up to date. I held stakeholder meetings with clients and suppliers as well as consulted with engineers.

At BMD Group, I attained work experience in the construction industry, applied some of the knowledge I had learned at university, and expanded my professional network.

  • Santos

I recently moved to Queensland to start my role as a Production Engineer at Santos which is an Australian oil and gas exploration and production company.

I supervise the Coal, Seam and Gas (CSG) assets in rural Queensland. This means looking after wells in CSG that produce gas, making sure that production targets are met, and that produced gas is within specifications.

I am also responsible for being the link between the field operators, engineers in the office and the operations teams to help run the field efficiently.

I love travelling to the field and working with our operators and maintenance teams. I enjoy the dynamic and fast-paced nature of the job. Things can change very quickly, so you need to know how to adjust and solve problems quickly too.

Petroleum Engineering Field Work

What would be your advice to students who are considering a career in Petroleum Engineering?

Don’t be afraid of negative comments and try to inform and educate others on the importance of fossil fuels. Don’t be afraid of being challenged – it may be an opportunity to learn something new or teach someone something new.


What is the biggest lesson you have learnt from your studies and career?

Whenever there isn’t an opportunity, create your own and don’t be afraid to ask for help.


Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

In 5 years, after working on different projects and assets at Santos, I see myself as an experienced engineer and a team leader. I also want to travel and get a few more stamps on my passport.

experienced engineer with robot dog

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