Careers in Geoscience: Oil and Gas
Oil and Gas geoscientists are employed by organisations working in the hydrocarbon (petroleum and gas) extraction industry, and work with either conventional or unconventional resources. Resources can be found in both onshore (e.g. Cooper Basin, SA) and offshore (e.g. North West Shelf, WA) environments. Conventional reservoirs are naturally porous and permeable, where well bores produce free flowing oil and gas, with limited need to actively pump. In comparison, unconventional reservoirs, like coal seam gas or tight shale gas, have reduced permeability requiring more complex extraction methods. As a few examples, geoscientists in this area may work as an operations geologist, asset/development geologist, exploration geologist, well-site geologist, petrophysicist, geophysicist, or in geomechanics. They are responsible for identifying and assessing the location, quantity and quality of petroleum resources such as oil, gas and condensate accumulations, and assisting with the design for extraction of these products. Their work can be field or office based, or a mix of the two. Fieldwork activities are made up of geological mapping, drill core, chip and mud logging, and collection of samples/data for geochemical, geomechanical, or geophysical analysis. Office activities include integration of subsurface data, interpretation and analysis of geological, geochemical and geophysical surveys, 2D and 3D modelling of data including resource modelling and reporting, and planning drilling activities based on all of the above.
Activities include exploration for and development of accumulations of oil, gas and condensate. The location of these activities is restricted to sedimentary basins throughout the world where oil and gas accumulations are possible.
Typical duties include:
- Investigating basin development and structure of sedimentary basins and the development of hydrocarbon deposits and accumulations within them
- Surveying and mapping geological type sections and occurrences within the basins
- Drill core logging of existing stratigraphic drill holes, and sampling for geochemical and geophysical information
- Analysing geological, geochemical and geophysical (particularly seismic and petrophysical log) data
- Data integration
- Modelling of integrated data using specialist 2D and 3D computer applications
- Ascertaining extraction parameters and risks
- Preparation and quality control of reports
- Planning & proposing drilling locations and campaigns based on integrated models of geological prospects & plays
- Advising managerial, technical and engineering on the development of resources
- Geological risking of plays and prospects, quantification, classification and reporting of in-place hydrocarbon resources and reserves.
The job carries a high level of responsibility, as the employee must ensure the accuracy of forecasts - initiating extraction processes is often very expensive and mistakes can be costly. Consequently, training is an important feature of the job.
Typical skills required are:
- Knowledge of a range of sciences and their applications
- Ability to work within a multidisciplinary team of scientists and engineers
- Good organisational & time management skills
- Computer literacy and ability to analyse numerical and graphical data
- Good written and verbal communication skills
- Geological mapping, rock identification, structural geology, good knowledge of geochemistry and geophysics, spatial skills and the ability to think in 3D.