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Women in Tanks

Women in Tanks: Sarriya Heyadarova

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Molly Cooper

Journalist at Tank Storage Magazine.

Well completion and intervention engineer, Sariyya Heydarova tells Molly Cooper about her connection to the industry

Sariyya Heydarova’s journey into the oil and gas industry differs from the usual path. Unlike many, she found herself having a strong connection with the industry from a young age, due to her passion for Azerbaijan’s rich oil and gas heritage. ‘Growing up amidst the history and landscapes of Azerbaijan, I found a profound connection to an industry that shaped my nation’s identity. It’s not just a career; it’s a way of preserving our legacy, fostering innovation, and contributing to the continued growth of our homeland,’ explains Heydarova.

Now, in her role as a well completion and intervention engineer at BP, Heydarova spends her days planning intervention operations and providing offshore support for the execution. ‘The role requires lots of multidisciplinary interaction, as well as communication with numerous vendors.’


Supportive Work Environment at BP

As a woman in the industry, Heydarova finds herself fortunate enough to not have personally experienced discrimination or differential treatment. ‘While it is widely acknowledged that working in a predominantly male-dominated field can pose challenges, my experience has been overwhelmingly positive, thanks to the support and respect shown to me by my male colleagues,’ explains Heydarova.

In the USA, where Heydarova currently works, she notices that women are treated similarly to their male counterparts in the workplace, in comparison to other countries. In turn, this helps to create a more inclusive and supportive work environment overall.

Attitudes towards women in the oil and gas industry are undoubtedly changing. The industry has been evolving from a traditionally male-dominated sector to one that embraces diversity and
inclusivity. As a result, women are feeling more heard, valued, and comfortable in their roles, which has opened up opportunities for them to thrive and take on leadership positions.

Heydarova says: ‘This positive shift is evident in various ways, such as the provision of dedicated facilities and changing rooms for women on platforms, reflecting a commitment to creating a more equitable work environment. It’s also becoming increasingly common to see female professionals on offshore platforms, highlighting the industry’s progress in promoting gender diversity.’


Rewarding Experiences in Energy

Heydarova stays inspired in her work by understanding that every action she takes within her role plays a part in the global delivery of energy. Working in offshore facilities is not a role for
everybody; especially with the commute. ‘Not many have the opportunity to work in offshore facilities where the commute involves a helicopter transfer and waking up in the middle of the vast, open sea, with no land in sight,’ says Heydarova.

For her, it’s the thrill of designing and overseeing operations in such challenging environments, where risks are inherent, that motivate her most at work.


Women in the Worrkplace

Heydarova believes women in male- dominated workforces need to be focusing on self-confidence and self- assertiveness to gain respect. ‘Women who are confident in their skills and abilities and don’t hesitate to speak up and take on leadership roles will be respected by male colleagues,’ she explains. Moreover, it is crucial to stay committed to learning and professional development. The more expertise that women can bring to the table, the more respected they will be.

‘Women should not hesitate to make their contributions visible and their achievements known to leadership. It is vital they know that women have a place in the industry,’ says Heydarova.
To retain women in the offshore workforce, it’s crucial to address the challenges they face, including inadequate facilities and the need for respect and support from male colleagues. Heydarova believes the contribution of women is changing the culture and mindset of the sector, making it more welcoming for future generations.

‘The industry has a profound impact on the world’s energy landscape; it is important that women have a direct hand in addressing global energy needs and sustainability, and they can do that by working in these fields,’ explains Heydarova.

‘First of all, the company should ensure equal opportunities for career advancement and leadership roles by creating a transparent and fair promotion process that rewards skills and qualifications, not gender,’ she explains. Heydarova suggests that the establishment of mentorship programs and support networks for women in the industry where mentors can offer guidance to female employees and a sense of belonging can be invaluable.

To help women balance offshore work with personal and family responsibilities, a company could offer flexible work arrangements such as remote options where feasible. Providing resources and support for managing family commitments while working offshore. This can include assistance with childcare arrangements and access to family counseling services.


‘Women should not hesitate to make their contributions visible and their achievements known to leadership.’

Despite the challenges of working in a male-dominated field, Heydarova would recommend the industry to other women. ‘The experience can be incredibly rewarding and personally transformative. The industry offers tons of opportunities for professional growth and advancement. It also encourages women to push the boundaries and break stereotypes, which can accelerate career progression,’ she says.


Thinking Ahead in Oil & Gas

Heydarova predicts the oil and gas industry will undergo significant transformation in the next 20 years, resulting in a greater emphasis on sustainability, renewable energy integration, and reduced carbon emissions. This will be reflective of the current global efforts to combat climate change.

‘The future of engineering careers in the oil and gas industry will evolve toward a more technology-driven and sustainable landscape. Engineers will be more focused on developing innovative solutions for cleaner energy production, enhanced automation, and improved environmental practices,’ she explains.

It will become key for an engineer working in the oil and gas industry to have a more diverse skillset. They will need to better fit the industry’s needs and remain a valuable asset while the transformation is ongoing. For this reason, Heydarova studied a master’s degree last year in sustainable energy and environmental management. This ensures she’s ready for the future of the industry.

From this, she has taken a role as a sustainability founder for the Sustainable Azerbaijan Community. ‘Through this initiative, I’m working to foster a sustainable mindset in Azerbaijan, advocating for environmentally responsible practices and promoting awareness about sustainability issues,’ she explains.


Passion & Dedication

In her current career as a well completion and intervention engineer, Heydarova recalls her proudest moment. ‘Delivering my first well was a defining moment where I understood the tiniest, but tangible impact, I had on the world’s energy supply and, more importantly,
on my country’s economy,’ she explains. Heydarova felt this to be a truly rewarding experience, seeing the direct results of her work in front of her.

This reinforced her sense of purpose in the industry and motivated her to continue making a positive impact on the global energy landscape. But in today’s unpredictable times, Heydarova finds it challenging to settle on a long-term goal in her career. ‘My goal is to shine brightly in my chosen field and approach my work with unwavering passion and dedication, whether the path leads to new challenges or opportunities, I aim to make a meaningful and positive impact on the world around me.’


For more information:
Follow Sariyya Heydarova on LinkedIn where she shares her thoughts on industry, education and sustainability.

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