Petroleum Geologist Spotlight

Half the job for Petroleum Geologists is finding out where to drill and the other half is creating a proposal to convince company leaders and investors to follow their reasoning. The Petroleum Geologist is at the front end of projects, figuring out where to drill, how and why.

What a typical day looks like:

A Petroleum Geologist’s job starts with research. They combine information from regional well logs and seismic data with their deep understanding of geology and the behaviour of oil and gas to help companies make decisions about where and how to drill. This research allows them to create maps and cross-sections of the earth, indicating the thickness of the zone, the porosity of the rock and the locations of wells in context with the underground structures and barriers.

Once they nail down the science of the earth formation, they build the economic case. Petroleum Geologists use computer programs to calculate things like taxes, oil prices and other costs and then estimate how much a company could profit on the well. When drilling begins, they frequently talk to the field workers, especially the Well Site Geologist, who is the eyes and ears on site. They are able to see much of the operations from their computer screen and help make important decisions when required.

Petroleum Geologists typically work a 40-hour week from an office. The physical execution of their project is in the hands of well site personnel, often in far-off, remote locations. Petroleum Geologists are employed by geology, geophysics and engineering consulting firms, typically in the exploration and production (E&P), oil sands and oil and gas services sectors of the oil and gas industry.

The kinds of problems Petroleum Geologists solve at work:

Petroleum Geologists solve one of the biggest questions for any oil and gas company: “where should we drill?” They combine all their data and knowledge to determine where the resources are, how a company can access them and if it is financially responsible to drill in that formation.

Skills used most on the job:

Petroleum Geologists take concepts from their head to the page or computer screen and then to reality. That means they are able to apply conceptual thinking using their strong grasp of math, chemistry and physics. A collaborator and team player, they also bring attention to detail, complex problem-solving and excellent organizational skills to the table.

Petroleum Geologists are among the visionaries that set any project into motion. Their activities cross from research to storytelling before the well is drilled, and then consulting during the drilling and production phases.

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