This week, we’re featuring a Geologist as the “Professional of The Week”. It was a very enlightening interview and I encourage every professional or budding professional out there to read on. (Please note that due to the level of her position in the industry, we’ve kept her identity anonymous but in future editions we may include names and pictures)
Profession: Geology, a Management Level staff of a Nigerian Oil & Gas Company
1. Why did you choose Geology as your profession?
It wasn’t in my plan to have a career in Geology. I was admitted to study Computer Science in a Nigerian university. In my second year sometime in the 70s, the university lacked facilities/computers and didn’t want to teach us only theory. We were therefore given the option to transfer to either mathematics or any department in the School of Physical Sciences. The only professional course in the School of Physical Sciences at the university was Geology. I choose Geology.
2. What is the best thing about your profession?
The challenges. I like challenges. My profession gives me a lot of opportunities to deal with challenges. In my profession, I use scientific evidence to propose the availability of hydrocarbon and estimate volumes based on analogue basins. Therefore, an inability to make the accurate estimates or forecasts can lead to a disastrous career for a geologist. That is the challenge that makes my professional enjoyable for me.
3. What do you do on a day-to-day basis?
On a typical day at my office, I look at my mails to assess reports on challenges drilling has posed and proffer solutions. I go on to review requests for additional seismic acquisition. I review contracts, ensure that the plan/schedule to complete the processing and reprocessing tasks are achievable. I assess rig availability and liaise with petroleum engineers to know the status of the appropriate rigs and sequence to be used for the drilling of proposed prospects. I’m a managerial staff, hence I review plans for training for other exploration staff, listen to contractors that have issues with their contracts, liaise with other agencies to ensure that the guidelines for prospects to be drilled are met, update records on exploration drilling status, reserves vis-à-vis daily production. I have morning exploration meetings with exploration staff to review previous day activities and plan for the new day. I attend meeting schedule with other groups, both within and outside my company.
4. What qualifications are your working towards?
As a managerial level staff, my trainings are mainly on negotiation skills to get good contracts.
Also, I’m training on handling high pressure environments. The current environment where we can unlock large volumes of hydrocarbon is in high temperature, high pressure environments; they’re what we call the deep potentials. In the past 50 years we’ve been drilling mainly from the conventional (that is normal pressure and temperature) but now we are going to the deep environment where we need special rigs.
5. What advice will you give someone that is interested in Geology as a profession?
To be a seasoned geologist, you should be good in science subjects. A keen interest and knowledge of data analysis is also needed; this comes in handy when you need to give projections. Accurate projections can only be achieved with proper data analysis. Also, a good imaginative skill is important in the Geology profession.
Geologists travel a lot, so anyone interested in a career in Geology must have an interest in traveling (sometimes without advance notice).
Entry level geologists do a lot of field work. When I chose Geology as my course, I was not aware of the field work. On our first trip, we encountered wild animals, snakes etc. This was surprising as I didn’t expect it and I briefly considered the option of transferring to Mathematics.
Also, our travels are usually to conferences and training. The industry is dynamic therefore continuous improvement of oneself is needed because you need to constantly train to remain relevant. Hence anyone interested in Geology as a profession must be willing to undergo constant training.
6. What skills will you advise current and aspiring students of Geology to acquire/develop?
It depends on the aspect of geology the person wants to major in. For instance, if you want to specialise in seismic, knowledge of physics is required. To specialise in stratigraphy, knowledge of biology, statistics and mathematics is required, and to specialise in operational geology knowledge of physics is required.
I am a stratigrapher but as I’m now in the managerial level, I hardly do stratigraphy.
A good geologist must also have the ability to observe and record observations. The ability to observe makes you able to project rightly. Good knowledge of geology will support your observation and prognosis.
Geologists, especially at entry level, go on field work and there are skills that enable a geologists excel at field work. It is important to develop writing and analysis skill. If you can’t write reports on your findings on the field, you will be called back.
….I cut in and presented her with the following scenario. Your organisation has just recruited and you need someone to work closely with. If you had to pick one person from a group of five, how will you go about this?
I will give a test. Give each of them a 10-page geological report and see who has the best ability to review and summarize this down to a maximum of one and half pages. The best candidate will have clearly put Background, Introduction, Objectives, observation, Recommendation and Prayer. I’ll look out for the ability to read a report, sieve out the core issues to be addressed, articulate and highlight these core points and make recommendation. My reason for using a test of this nature is that as a manager, I have several reports as well as meetings to attend. It is important that the personnel I work with can analyse these reports. Also, such a personnel will attend some meetings with me and this excellent analytical skills will be needed to listen, take notes and prepare reports.You will notice that such a staff will grow very quickly as he/she will learn a lot by working closely with a seasoned professional. Also, these skills are important for the field work (which must be done at entry level) therefore such an individual will excel in Geology. A lack of analytical skill is the challenge of most entry level geologists and an inability to develop it will certainly stall your career.
7. In the Geology profession, is it a barrier if your degree is not Geology?
No it is not a barrier. You can get trained and be vast in Geology. Several renowned geologists started out as botanists, mathematicians and physicists
8. Do you have any other interests you pursue outside your profession as a Geologist?
I mentor young people because most people enter the profession with their mind geared to make money. I encourage them to be result oriented and love the profession. When you get into the profession you can get joy from your results and its the joy before the financial benefits.