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A DAY IN MY LIFE IN THE MARINE INDUSTRY

marine-industry
Dr. Natasha Horn 
Senior Technologist Global Marine & Energy directly

Today – the International Day for Women in Maritime – I wanted to share an insight into my role as Senior Development Technologist for bp, offer advice for women in the marine and energy industries and STEM, and discuss some key industry developments, including decarbonisation.


Having studied Chemistry as an undergraduate and then completed my Research Doctorate in Synthetic Organic Chemistry at the University of Reading, I worked as a Chemist for bp for two years. I then did various roles in other marine and energy companies before returning to bp, where I have been working for more than seven years now. Outside of work, my rescue dog Bertie and horse riding keep me busy!  


As a technologist in Castrol Global Marine and Energy Technology Deployment Team, each day is different! My responsibilities include formulating lubricants, working on the current lubricant product portfolio, creating new products, providing internal training, and collaborating with production plants and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) – particularly for the marine 2-stroke engine lubricants portfolio.


I appreciate the variety of roles that my job offers, with research and development (R&D) being what I enjoy the most. At R&D,  I spend a lot of time maintaining and building our strong technical relationships with OEMs worldwide and internally collaborating with the product development, new product science and fuels teams to prepare for the next steps in the energy transition and the marine decarbonisation transition.


In fact, I recently attended a Castrol Marine event in Athens, where partners, customers and colleagues could network and collaborate. I was on ‘The Way Forward’ panel discussion which explored the future of the marine industry and anticipated challenges and opportunities. 


It was excellent to have a strong gender balance at the event, with 50% of the panel being female, something seldom seen at shipping industry events! From my perspective, bp and Castrol have long welcomed and championed diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I). Having a female OEM expert was additional proof that women can excel in STEM, as well as in marine and energy.


Days of recognition like the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) International Day for Women in Maritime continue to raise awareness of the need to improve DE&I across the entire industry and present an opportunity for women in the industry to share their advice and learnings. 


If you are considering joining the marine or energy industries, or indeed pursuing a career in STEM, I have a key piece of advice: just be yourself, there is nothing wrong with having a personality! You can enjoy your job and have fun, while still working in a highly technical STEM role. The marine industry can be conservative, so by breaking the mould and bringing diverse ideas, there are ample opportunities to add immense value.

 

With the emergence of new and alternative marine fuels and the increasing representation of women in maritime, the marine industry has a great opportunity to enhance its ESG standing (environmental, social and governance). 


As new alternative fuels emerge, we must ensure that the right lubricant is available for shipowners and operators, regardless of which fuel or technology they choose. Yet developing and pairing lubricants for each chemically diverse fuel is an increasingly complex challenge. This trend has caused an interesting evolution in both my role and the broad role of lubricant players in the marine industry.


In my thirteen plus years in the marine industry, I have seen the industry grow more complex and Castrol Marine’s solutions expanding its product portfolio to meet the evolving needs of the industry. While we have been planning for myriad different fuel scenarios, the speed of change has been quite unprecedented.  At the same time, we have rapidly responded to surprises like the pandemic to ensure supply chain resilience and business continuity.


While there are many dynamic challenges, our team has proven that it has the technical expertise to support shipowners and operators. Our chemists are rising to the lubricant formulation challenges; our   engineers are analysing the impacts on engines; our ship trials experts are using their seafaring knowledge to explore onboard practicalities; and we are all collaborating to fulfil our roles as, not only commodity providers, but also technical service partners to shipowners and operators.