As a young man starting his career, Arthur “Stuart” Hill, son of an American father and Mexican mother, moved from Mexico City to Houston, the oil & gas capital. He started at Phillips 66 right after its 1989 explosion that killed 23 persons to work on a major rebuild of the plant. While he was there, the plant blew up another three times, once when his pregnant wife was waiting for him in the car in the parking lot.
Since then, safety has been his main focus. “For me, the most interesting aspect of safety is to look at the technical design of a facility – to find out what happened and why it happened. And to make sure it won’t happen again.”
Stuart’s main role in projects today is to advise on the health and environmental aspects, looking at design from an individual and societal risk point of view. Some of the major projects he’s worked on since his early days include Chevron’s Chuandongbei (CDB) gas project in China, where he helped relocate an entire village and provided many new resources to help the local communities in the new location. Another highlight of his career has been to work on Chevron’s Gorgon and Wheatstone projects, Australia’s largest gas discovery ever.
Stuart went on work with DNV in the UK, advancing his qualifications in risk and safety management, and traveling the world as part of the organization. He later returned to the US where he continued his educations and worked on numerous HSE projects for companies including Chevron, BP, Exxon, Shell, Repsol, Technip, and currently Petrofac, where he was seconded to the first deep water project in Pemex history.
He feels that the most important characteristics of anyone in this profession are to understand the client’s needs and be flexible. During his own career, he has had a chance to improve the local conditions for people by working with doctors on tuberculosis, STDs, and medical attention/access projects. In a Venezuelan project, he helped turn wood from forests into school desks for children. “I enjoy being able to influence projects and leave the site in a better situation in any way I can,” he says.
Stuart has enjoyed the opportunity to travel to wonderful places alongside his work. Seeing Angel Falls in Venezuela and having one foot in Europe and the other in Asia in Kazakhstan have been amazing memories.
Still, the explosions earlier in his career changed his entire perspective. He says: “Not only did I start to truly value my family and co-workers, but focusing on saving lives and the environment has become the most important aspect of my life.”