Day in the Life: Serge – Field Administrator, SAExploration
- 4 min read
Serge took a labourer job in Alberta’s oil and industry in 1996. Since then he’s built a career in the sector, working his way up in the seismic and geophysical fields.
Originally, the term “seismic” referred to the measurement of vibrations of the earth following an earthquake. But in the late 1800s, experts determined that artificially created sound waves from surface could help identify the shape of subsurface geological structures when the returning signals were recorded and analyzed.
Vital to traditional oil and gas exploration, geophysics uses seismic waves to create an image of what is underground. Crews place geophones in the ground and create underground vibrations with tightly controlled explosions. The resulting refracted and reflected waves are measured and interpreted to understand subsurface formations. This helps oil and gas companies understand the geology of a site and if and where drilling operations could be successful.
Although Serge has never been formally trained in geophysics, he has learned much in the 24 years he’s worked in the field, from how to collect seismic data to how to manage people.
“I’ve learned from experience on the job,” Serge says. “I’ve had many opportunities and rewards in this industry.”
Currently a field administrator with SAExploration, his job has many facets.
“Our crews can be between 20 and 120 people, depending on the size of the job,” Serge says. “Collecting the data for the client and coordinating the crew is an important part of the job. We do that with seismic labourers, surveyors and operators. We also have mechanics, safety advisors and medical staff. My job is to coordinate all of them and liaise with our office staff.”
A typical day
Serge’s working days tend to be long—usually about 12 hours, sometimes more.
A checklist of his day-to-day job is lengthy: safety meetings with his crew; completing reports and timecards; booking crew accommodation in a work camp or hotel; submitting field data (seismic results); analyzing crew costs and productivity; and calculating costs and returns.
This work relies on his computer and organizational skills, as well as the ability to adapt. Seismic exploration has changed considerably in recent decades, and he’s changed with it.
“Seismic data acquisition has seen advances such as 3D/4D techniques, digital telemetry and wireless acquisition equipment.” Serge explains, “these have enabled us to acquire much higher density recordings and have greatly improved subsurface information with a smaller footprint.”
One of the constants throughout Serge’s career has been field work.
“I like working in the field, being outside and away from the big city. I’m happy not to have to drive in traffic every day to go to work,” he says.
I’ve learned a lot of the technical side of geophysics and I’ve been lucky to learn about and respect people from different cultures, with different expertise and unique skills. This has helped me understand and appreciate the people I work with anywhere in the world.
Enjoyment and opportunities
“I like the challenge of my job, completing reports, timekeeping and data every day. It takes a lot to keep our crew and our business operations running smoothly,” Serge says. “I enjoy this work and the opportunities it’s given me.”
Those opportunities have included working and travelling around the world.
“I’ve learned a lot of the technical side of geophysics,” Serge says, “and I’ve been lucky to learn about and respect people from different cultures, with different expertise and unique skills. This has helped me understand and appreciate the people I work with anywhere in the world.”
Wherever Serge works, he feels he’s on an adventure and a part of a community.
“I’m proud to be part of the oil and gas industry. There are so many myths about how it operates, and I feel I can help dispel them. Our industry is constantly striving to be safer and reduce its environmental impact. We all consume energy every day. It’s part of our lives . . . I’ve enjoyed working in it and no other industry takes care of its workers like the oil and gas industry does.”
I’m proud to be part of the oil and gas industry. There are so many myths about how it operates, and I feel I can help dispel them. Our industry is constantly striving to be safer and reduce its environmental impact. We all consume energy every day. It’s part of our lives . . . I’ve enjoyed working in it and no other industry takes care of its workers like the oil and gas industry does.
$47,000 to $64,000
High School Diploma
Salary, education and advancement may vary from company to company.