Geologist, ExxonMobil Canada Ltd
I was born/grew up in: Calgary, AB. Grew up in St. John’s, NL
I now live in: St. John’s, NL
I completed my training/education at: I completed a Sc (hons) and MSc. (Earth Sciences) – Memorial University of Newfoundland
Describe what you do at work.
A typical work day is spent both engaging with other team members (geologists, engineers) and working independently on specific tasks. My main work is to use the data from the wellbores to determine how the hydrocarbons are distributed in the area we are exploring. I also aim to figure out how best to target and extract these resources. This is done through mapping, drilling wells, and collecting other types of subsurface data.
The data I study are collected in wellbores drilled deep into the earth by tools that gather physical properties about the reservoir. We measure a variety of rock properties such as radioactivity, acoustics, conductivity, material density, and mineral composition. Interpreting this data requires mixture of chemistry, physics, biology, geologic principles, math, and problem solving. I use software to interpret this data and create models to describe what is below the surface. This includes the rock types that have been drilled and what fluids are present in the wellbore (e.g. gas, oil, water). The models will also show the volume of hydrocarbons that are present and the distribution of these hydrocarbons. As more wells are drilled throughout the life of an oil field, the data from all these wellbores are added to the earlier data to continually improved the model.
Figuring out what the earth looks like below the surface is an interactive process. My team members and I work together and use creative thinking, inference, problem solving, logic, and scientific principles to describe large oil reservoirs with limited data. We also use this process to decide where future wells will be placed for exploration, development, and production.
When I was a student I enjoyed:
How does your job affect people’s lives?
Working for an oil and gas company means that I am participating in an industry that is meeting a global energy demand. It means working professionally and ethically to explore for, develop, and extract these resources. I take a lot of pride in being part of the oil and gas industry in my home province of Newfoundland and Labrador; an industry that is vital to our provincial economy and future growth.
What motivates you in your career?
I love that this industry is always pushing the limits of technology. For me, this means that the tools used to obtain the wellbore data I study are constantly changing. These tools make use of different physics principles or improve on existing technology. It creates an environment where learning never stops and training is never finished. There are always new and exciting challenges that require problem solving, creative thinking, and the integration of many different types of data. This challenging technical environment means that I can look forward to a long exciting and dynamic career. Being part of a collaborative team has allowed me to meet so many diverse and exciting people with whom I share a common passion and interest. Working for an international company also means that there are opportunities to work all over the world.
When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:
Describe your career path to this career.
My father is a geologist and I grew up in a province rich in geology. So I guess I always had some exposure to geoscience growing up. My curiosity in geoscience was fuelled by how it demanded the integration of physical sciences, chemistry, biology, math, and history. Studying geoscience means investigating processes and integrating observations on both macroscopic (e.g. tectonics) and microscopic (e.g. mineral crystal structure) scales. I knew from a very young age that I wanted to pursue a career in geoscience.
I attended Memorial University of Newfoundland and received a B.Sc (hons) and MSc. in earth sciences. My studies were mainly “hard rock”, focused on igneous rocks, how mineral deposits formed, and tectonics. During my summer breaks, however, I interned at oil and gas companies and became exposed to the oil and gas industry. Here I was exposed to wellbore tool data and evaluation. This gave me a great blend of academic study and industry training across different areas of geoscience. It was a great way to develop my skills and be exposed to the variety of career paths available in geoscience.
What activities do you like to do outside of work?
Travel, exercise, always trying new things (art classes, joining a sports team)
What advice or encouragement would you give others seeking a similar career?
Ensure that you pursue enough variety in your studies and work opportunities. This will help you to understand the different career paths that are available. A career in geoscience can mean working in mining, oil and gas, academic research, volcanology, seismology, or paleontology. It can also involve a blended career that includes several of these and evolves over time. Scientific knowledge is always evolving. So it is important to stay engaged with these advancements and new ideas beyond the completion of your formal studies. Get involved in industry associations and network with peers and mentors to explore how diverse a career in geoscience can be.