Elart Zondag makes a successful switch from oil & gas to the renewables sector

Elart Zondag, Logistics Coordinator for German wind energy giant Enercon, is one of a growing group of Atlas professionals who have chosen to switch career from the oil and gas industry to the booming renewables business.

After starting his early career as a foreman of a stevedoring crew, specialising in sea fastening services for containerships and ro-ro vessels, Elart became the Maintenance Planner for Total at its offshore base in Den Helder, the Netherlands. “I had to identify everything that had been ordered and check all the equipment which would be deployed for the fixed maintenance jobs. This was for Total’s oil and gas activities offshore and included manned and unmanned platforms.”

Elart became one of Atlas’s professionals in 2014 when his offshore career began. “Total was pleased with my work in Den Helder. I then got the chance to work offshore in a new role as the Material Coordinator for Total’s platforms in the North Sea.  Here the ‘home base’ was the L7Q platform, and everything would be fed from there to the satellite stations.

“I always tried to have an answer and a solution if there was an issue. And I think Total appreciated this.” Then in September 2017 Elart, along with many others in the sector, lost his position as the crisis hit. 

Fresh challenge

He immediately got in contact with Atlas. “Atlas knew how I had done my job as Material Coordinator (Matco) with Total and my capabilities. I think I had two weeks leave and then already had a new job with Enercon. This was a fresh challenge for me and my first job in the renewables sector.”

Enercon offered Elart a position as the Logistics Coordinator for the Krammer wind farm in Bruinisse (Zeeland), which comprises 34 wind turbines. “This is a special project and one of the toughest Enercon has because of the environment. Basically you are dealing with wind and the weather conditions. We are lifting big blades and have to be extremely careful of the wind speeds.”

Elart stresses that he saw the Enercon job as an exciting new opportunity. “Oil and gas is not going very well, so renewables are really the future.”

It was also a new challenge and a chance to educate myself, he adds. 

“I was a bit nervous when I had to do the interviews in English. But then again, I have a lot of experience and know about lifting, transporting by sea, supply boats, dangerous goods, and handling all the documentation for customs and to the client’s requirements.”  

Windpark Krammer 

The 4MW turbines for Windpark Krammer, he points out, are 120 m high including the blades. In the second half of the year the last 10 turbines were being installed. The project is expected to complete in January/February 2019.  At the peak of the project around 2000 people were involved.

Elart’s role includes the transport of all the materials and equipment for the wind farm, as well as organising repairs or replacement parts. “I do all the ‘WEC (wind energy convertor) parts’, the inner & outer blades etc.”

Components have to be transported from Emden in Germany to Krammer overnight by truck or on a specially made barge. 

“Once I have the ETA, I have to make sure the cranes are fully prepared and that all the parts are discharged carefully at the logistics location. I also meet the installation teams and carry out a toolbox meeting when preparing for discharging and arrange surveys in case there are damages.”

Big responsibility

Elart emphasises: “You always have to be sharp. For example, if lifting a blade and the wind suddenly steps up. There are always challenges. But I like to go outside and speak to the guys and ask if there is anything they need. Communication is very important. I am enthusiastic and motivated and still do the job with a big smile!” 

The project is running according to plan, he says. And Enercon has just given Elart another challenge, where he is responsible for the transportation of five turbines for ‘Windpark Spui’, near Piershil. 

“I have been given a lot of responsibility by Atlas but I am greedy to learn and open for new challenges.” Elart enjoys working with Atlas and been given the chance to work in both the oil and gas industry, and in renewables. “Atlas is well organised and if you have requests they listen carefully and help you.  For me, it was a good idea to switch over to another sector. First of all I was a little bit disappointed, I had imagined that I would retire from the oil and gas business. But that is not the case. I now have a new chance in a new industry!”