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10,000 days as a Calor Engineer

Calor employee Paul Smith wearing a high vis jacket and hard hat outside a Calor plant

Paul Smith, Calor’s Engineering Programme Manager said: “A few years ago I downloaded an app on my phone which provides a countdown of days to the various events I had added to my diary.  I spotted it also counts back to events in the past and noticed I had reached an astonishing 10,000 days since I first started at Calor.  This made me reflect on how my career has progressed since those early days.”

We spoke with Paul to find out more about what has formed part of these 10,000 days over the last three decades of working for the company, in a career that has seen him grow from a graduate, work around the world, and continue to believe passionately about the many engineering projects he is still involved with. 

Calor has two of Europe’s largest LPG gas storage terminals in place, a wide distribution network and the ability to develop bespoke, business-critical solutions to help switch or upgrade from heavy fuel to LPG, and ensure its customers have an efficient, secure LPG fuel supply, 24/7 emergency cover, 365 days a year. Calor also continues to lead the way with advancements in sustainable energy and a pledge to offer all customers renewably sourced energy solutions by 2040.

This doesn’t happen without a skilled and talented team in place. And this gives scope for anyone looking to begin or advance a career in engineering or project management with the company.

Embarking on a wide and varied career

“I joined Calor on its Graduate Engineer Programme back in 1994,” Paul explains. “My first 2 years consisted of a series of secondments around the UK, which included LPG Bulk Vehicle Design, Cylinder Filling Plant Operations, Underground LPG Vessel Research and Development, and Development of Piping Inspection Procedures.  I then spent a further two years managing operational and engineering projects at Calor’s Felixstowe Terminal. 

“From Felixstowe, I was given a wonderful opportunity to work for SHV, Calor’s parent company, over in the Philippines. Calor had been asked to manage a marine terminal expansion project, which included the on-site construction of six mounded LPG vessels.  Each vessel was 91m long and 8m in diameter – the largest vessels of their type ever built.  

“For the first year, I was Site Engineer, helping to ensure contractors delivered to specification whilst meeting quality and safety standards.  Once the storage had been commissioned, and for the following two years, I managed site operations and a team of 25.  in my fourth and final year, I managed the construction of new jetty facilities after the existing jetty had been destroyed during a typhoon!  My time in the Philippines certainly gave me an opportunity to tackle a wide variety of responsibilities and engineering projects.”

Upgrades and decommissioning

“Being able to continue to grow is important in building a long-term career,” Paul added. “And the opportunity to continue learning across the business at Calor, is extensive. On returning to the UK, I was able to further broaden my project experience during an assignment to help manage a filling plant upgrade at Port Clarence.  This was the last big plant refurb to take place before the more recent palletisation projects and saw electronic filling scales introduced for the first time to replace and upgrade outdated mechanical scales.  
“Not long after this, and due to a huge expansion of Felixstowe Container Port, Calor’s old Felixstowe Terminal unfortunately had to close, requiring the safe decommissioning of the Terminal, including its massive 27,000 tonne refrigerated propane tank. Of course, this needed a lot of careful planning and risk management which I coordinated and managed with the Port, Local Authorities, contractors, and other experts within Calor.”

Customer Engineering Projects

Calor also provides off-grid homes and businesses with efficient energy solutions.  This ranges from cylinders and small bulk LPG tanks, through to much larger bulk storage with multiple applications.   Calor also provides a tailored service to help manufacturing facilities to upgrade, especially from heavy oils, whether this is to meet regulation requirements or to meet self-imposed emissions targets. Ensuring end-to-end advice, from planning requirements to the upgrade design of fuel supply systems and safe siting of LPG tanks, it can talk its customers through the process to ensure a smooth transition with limited downtime for production facilities.    

What this brings to a career with Calor is the ability to use expertise in new roles and engineering challenges.    

Paul continued: “The skills and knowledge gained previously then enabled me to manage several complex Customer Engineering projects. This included the process design and project management of a 2 x 50 tonne underground LPG vessels system at RAF Lakenheath.  This was a particular highlight because a bespoke and highly controlled vaporiser system needed to be developed.  The installation (which provides gas to over 600 homes) was also thought to be the biggest underground LPG storage metered estate Europe.

“Not long after Lakenheath, Calor entered the market to supply LNG.  This requires a relatively large-scale and complex customer storage facility to maintain the LNG in its cryogenic liquid state before re-gasification and use in appliances.  The next five years, saw me provide technical support to the function, and project manage most of Calor’s industrial LNG installations. Now, I manage the National Engineering Projects Team and a programme of varied and multi-disciplined engineering projects across Calor’s operational sites. 

“My own Calor journey has been largely projects related.  However, it needs to be said that there are many more Calor Engineers and Technicians who deliver a broad range of other essential and professional technical services to the business.

“My first 10,000 days as a Calor Engineer have certainly been varied, interesting and rewarding.  I’m now looking forward to the next few thousand days, although to be honest I don’t think I will quite manage another 10,000!”

To find out more about careers at Calor, visit our job vacancies page to see the latest opportunities available and to find where you can make a difference.  

Calor LNG-fuelled asphalt plant