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Did I Make the Right Career Choice?

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JPT asked several active young professionals about their career path thus far and what they liked about petroleum engineering. Here are some of their answers.

Feeling Lucky

Carter Clemens, BP

I lucked into the petroleum industry; I did not know much about it before choosing it as a major at the University of Texas. It has allowed me to live and travel to distant countries I never thought I would visit—whether it is Abu Dhabi, Port of Spain, Cairo, or Aberdeen, the oil industry has an incredible reach to some interesting locations. It has also enabled me to pursue engineering while spending a lot of my time outside instead of in front of a computer screen. When I was riding around with well operators in Wyoming and Colorado, I thought of how lucky I was to not be in a cubicle. There is something special about being on a wellsite surrounded by snow in Wyoming or watching a sunrise from a rig in the middle of the ocean—you can’t get that with most industries.

Personal Satisfaction

Bruno S. Rivas, Mexico National Hydrocarbons Commission

Petroleum engineering is more than getting oil out of the ground; it means delivering the energy that the world needs to fight poverty, increase human wellness, and accelerate growth in a sustainable way. The oil and gas industry has given me the opportunity to interact with professionals from all over the world, to exchange different experiences, to solve problems in a responsible and efficient manner, and to inspire future generations. With no doubt, if I had to decide again what to study, my choice would be oil and gas; it is certainly not an easy path, but realizing that I’m generating a positive impact on others’ lives is a personal satisfaction.

Let’s Talk Climate Change

Angela Dang Atkinson, Encana Corp.

I love saying, “I’m a petroleum engineer and I believe in anthropogenic climate change.” It catches people off guard and begins a nuanced conversation about energy. It is an opportunity for me to talk about the importance of incremental change and that there is no silver bullet in solving the world’s energy challenges. As Harvard economics professor Ed Glaeser states, “Once we start thinking that there’s a silver bullet…we lose the fact that we need to be working day by day, over decades, to effect change.” We, the oil industry, are among those working day by day to effect change—whether we are increasing the use of recycled fracture water or finding creative ways to reduce emissions, these are the types of incremental gains on the way to better energy solutions. This nuanced conversation should not primarily exist in 150-­character tidbits online. It is up to us to have that conversation in a grassroots manner, face to face, with our community.

Exciting Digital Technology

Jesma Mohan, Schlumberger

I work on bringing new digital technologies like cloud computing, high-performance computing, machine learning, and data analytics to solve the challenges of the oil industry. I am excited to have been part of technology development teams at Schlumberger over the years. I have worked on development of technologies like Petrel, LiftIQ, Well watcher advisor, Designpro, and now DELFI. It gives me immense pleasure to be the one on the forefront of developing the technologies that redefine the way oil and gas industry will work.

I am proud of the real-time technologies that I was involved in developing for artificial lift and intelligent completions, which have proven to lower operating costs and increase well productivity for the operator.

A career in petroleum engineering can be extremely diverse as it presents opportunities around the world. I understand that it has its drawbacks with uncertainty in oil and gas prices; nevertheless, I believe it can be a rewarding career as long as you do not stop updating yourself with the latest advances in technology and practicing it. I would like the people outside the profession to know that, as petroleum engineers, safety is our number one priority. We care about the environment and we work really hard to extract the oil and gas in a safe and feasible manner.

A STEM Champion

Lavish Garg, Weatherford

The best thing I admire about this career is various STEM applications covering vast engineering domains. As you deep dive, one realizes the limitless ocean of knowledge needed in terms of breadth and depth to reach thousands of meters underneath to free fluids from the trap safely. The best perks of the oil and gas industry are (opportunities) to attend conferences and meetings around the globe and to meet people from different walks of life and make an impact. My proudest achievement has been representing SPE in the Emerging Leaders Alliance Conference where passionate petroleum, mechanical, electrical, and civil engineers gathered for cross-disciplinary leadership training. I was the only one who had something in common with everyone, which made me feel proud, and there was no looking back.

Confronting Challenges

Yogashri Pradhan, Endeavor Energy Resources

What I like best about my career in petroleum engineering is getting to solve engineering problems that support the business and the local community. I am grateful for making the decision as a high school junior to pursue a petroleum engineering degree at university. After a few years of valuable work experience in the industry, I am confident that I made the right choice. The hands-on experience in the field, my experience in volunteering in SPE, and the multidisciplinary collaboration to make the best decisions for the business have pleasantly surprised me in my career so far. What I would like others outside of this profession to know about what I do is that it truly takes a team of different technical and nontechnical backgrounds to make the best decisions for the business while maintaining social responsibility. I am fortunate to have worked in different organizations and I am passionate about SPE, as the achievement I’m most proud of to date is receiving the SPE Young Member Outstanding Service Award.

Lifelong Friendships

Samuel Ighalo, Halliburton

The valued experience gained from participating in various global projects and the lifelong friendships that I have made along the way are the things that I like best about my career in the industry. I feel I made the right choice as a petroleum engineer because it has afforded me the opportunity to work in an international workplace, which I value tremendously. It has also been intellectually engaging for me, which has helped my career growth and development. I’m particularly impressed by the commingling of technologies from virtually every industry in the oil and gas industry, especially in deepwater field developments. People outside the profession should know that this industry is just as technologically advanced as any other industry. I have several notable accomplishments in my career. Probably the most significant was becoming the lead content creator for SPE’s The Way Ahead publication, which has given me a platform to create human resources-related content for young professionals as well as to connect with various leaders in the industry.

Solving the Downhole Mystery

Nii Ahele Nunoo, NOV

In my role as a new technology design engineer, I work with a team of engineers whose primary goal is focusing on changing the status quo in the drilling phase. We review and support the process of the drilling design innovation phase from concept inception until field testing. My focus and expertise are designing drilling tools with embedded sensors that can survive at high temperatures and vibration to effectively provide data to help make good drilling decisions. The positive contribution to the industry is safely drilling productive and cost-effective wells.

Reflecting on my career, I think I made a great decision by working in the oil and gas industry to help tackle and solve some of the world’s energy problems. Often, most people tend to focus on other forms of energy, but I am a firm believer that with the right technology focus, we can drill and produce efficient, cheap, reliable forms of energy using fossil fuels.

One thing that keeps me coming back to work every day is the downhole mystery; no one knows what goes on downhole, but with historically trusted data, we always get to our total depth. I would say my greatest accomplishment to date is working with a team at NOV that helped deploy the first closed-loop drilling automation in the industry.

Let’s Diversify the Jobs

Radmila Mandzhieva, Independent

I like the scale of the petroleum industry, its internationalism. I am impressed by the engineering aspects of our jobs and the increasing complexity of our projects. At the same time, I do not like the influence of geopolitics on oil and gas. I hope that in the future we can make our markets more politically independent.

I chose engineering as my major because I like to invent, create, and fix. (But) I want to see broader choice in available jobs within the oil and gas industry. … If we want to attract talented youngsters from Gen Z, we have to change. Digitalization has already modified oil and gas, creating various types of jobs. But I think the petroleum industry should cooperate with other energy branches as well (such as renewables). And, who knows, maybe one day we will see a common network of energy professionals.

The most supportive thing in the petroleum industry for me is SPE. As a young professional, I enjoy participating in the Society’s projects and events. It means a lot for me to read in my TWA award certificate that, “SPE is proud to have young leaders like you.” This is my biggest achievement so far, and the No. 1 reason to stay in the game.

We Power the World

Tarang Lal, Aera Energy

Yes, I work in the oil and gas industry and am proud of it. From fueling cars, heating homes, powering airplanes, and keeping servers online, our industry provides the energy to progress the world forward.

There are lots of challenges and lots of problems that need to be solved and that’s why I’m excited about working as a petroleum engineer. I enjoy collaborating with others, having ownership of a process, and making an impact that will help communities around the world.

The biggest surprise working in this industry has been how similar we are regardless of where we work within this global industry, and how transferrable our skills are to other industries.

I wish people knew about our industry’s focus on safety and environmental protection. We all want clean air and water, just like our neighbor. We acknowledge our industry is not perfect; then again, no industry is. Ultimately, society is significantly better with our industry than without.

Come join us and power the world forward.

Did I Make the Right Career Choice?

01 March 2019

Volume: 71 | Issue: 3

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