Having spent the last 22 years in the oil and gas industry, Les Irwin has seen and done just about everything when it comes to well servicing rigs and equipment.

Now as Ventia's Operations Manager - Well Servicing, Les' team and crews benefit from his hugely valuable, specialised, and hands-on expertise.

Les joined Ventia (then known as Easternwell) in 2003 as a Derrickman, rigging oil-well derricks (a lifting device, for those not in the know) and assisting with the servicing of wells. He was keen, worked hard, and soon progressed through the company, rising to Driller, Rig Manager, Field Superintendent, Operations Superintendent Well Servicing, to his current position as Ventia's Operations Manager - Well Servicing.

His many and varied roles have seen Les work with natural gas, coal seam gas, and on water and oil wells carrying out work overs and completions with PCPs, ESPs, LRPs and free flowing wells. It is his knowledge of all things well servicing that makes Les a great leader for our crews in the field.


A hand's on approach

Now as a Manager, as well as managing everything from tenders, client relationships, crews, rigs and equipment, Les has a hugely valuable role sharing his 'on the tools' experience and knowledge. 

Les' crews know he understands exactly what they are working on - the challenges and issues - because he has been there himself.

"Leading by example, on-the-ground training and demonstrations are key to gaining the respect of our crews," said Les.

"I try to be as involved and hands-on as possible - I can't share my experience from behind a desk. 

I think it's critical to the success of this job: to be out on the ground with the crews, to work with them, know them personally - this plays a big part in making sure we remain the 'family' that we are renowned for.

"I am so proud of our exceptional team - the superintendents, managers, HSE team, crews - we're in an excellent place. We communicate, support each other and work as one - and this shows through in our achievements. 

"These guys are the future of Ventia, and the future is bright," Les said.

Pictured above: Operations Manager - Well Servicing, Les Irwin and crew

Finding a work lif balance

While Les concedes there are challenges that come with a rostered life and it can take time to adjust, he says there are also many personal and professional benefits.

We work a two-weeks on/two-weeks off roster, and for me, this allowed me real quality time at home with family and friends.

'I was there with my family 24 hours a day for two weeks at a time, and for me that really worked - being able to take the kids to/from school and activities, watch their sport, help them with homework, be with them in a way I couldn't if I were working a regular 9-5 job.

"Then professionally speaking, spending two weeks at a time with the team - we naturally become a tight-knit crew. Friendships formed in this industry tend to be lifelong."

Les' advice for anyone considering a job in the oil and gas industry: "There are so many opportunities," he said.

"If you work hard and get along with your crew, the opportunities, variety of work and chances for progression through the company are endless. 

I love it. I wouldn't work in any other industry, or any other company.

Pictured at top: Operations Manager - Well Servicing, Les Irwin