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Geoscience Careers in the Oil and Gas Industry: A Most Excellence Adventure

Lorie Dunne¹, John Barton², and David Ewen³
¹BP America, North America Gas, 501 Westlake Park Blvd., Houston, Texas 77079
²BP America, Gulf of Mexico, 501 Westlake Park Blvd., Houston, Texas 77079
³BP, 1–4 Wellheads Ave., Dyce, Aberdeen, AB21 7PB, United Kingdom

Development of the next generation of geoscientists requires a long-term commitment by the petroleum industry. This commitment starts with geoscience education in elementary and high schools, as well as support of geoscience programs at the college level to insure that basic training in skills, such as field mapping, mineralogy, and paleontology are offered. At the graduate level it requires a joint effort between industry and academia to make sure the funding, courses, people, and resources are available to develop the next generation of geoscientists. Fundamental to this is field-based thesis work where basic geoscience skills are advanced, students tackle geoscience problems, and they learn to think independently. BP has historic and strong relationships with academia and supports a number of activities, consortia, and research through involvement of our staff and by providing financial support.

Once employed by industry, a geoscientist’s development continues to deepen and is enhanced by new hire and other career enriching programs. BP recognizes and supports this long-term commitment to the continuous professional development of our geoscientists by providing numerous opportunities and structured programs to grow one’s skills and career in ways that are aligned with business needs.

The Challenge Program is an early-career technical program for all newly hired geoscientists, petrophysicists, and engineers that supports their development from university through the first three years of their employment. It is an introduction to the subsurface fundamentals used in multidisciplinary teams that find, develop and produce oil and gas. It provides job experiences and training that allow geoscientists to understand risk and uncertainty, while developing a common language in support of integrated problem solving. It includes formal, and informal learning and on the job training while utilising subsurface and outcrop data to reinforce these fundamentals. Yearly reviews are conducted to assure development is progressing appropriately.

BP recently launched the eXcellence Program, which continues this structured development approach through the next several years of one’s career. This is a rigorous, comprehensive, and intentional program that continues to incorporate job experiences, formal learning, structured informal learning opportunities, and development reviews. For geoscientists, there are specific developmental routes for Integrated Geoscience (Exploration & Appraisal, Appraisal & Development and Development & Production); Applied Geology (Operations, Sed/Strat, Structure, Petroleum Systems, and Biostratigraphy); Applied Geophysics (Survey, Operations, Processing, or Analysis); Petrophysics (Operations, Production, Reservoir Description, and Seismic Rock Properties) and Technical Assistants. Each route is tailored to provide specific experiences and training to deepen technical skills in these areas, whether as an integrator or applied practitioner. This developmental curriculum is underpinned by networks and communities of practice where geoscientists can share learnings and solve problems across a global geoscience community, as well as through industry meetings. Technical reviews are conducted every few years to assure that development is on track and that the right opportunities are available to optimise professional growth.

Beyond eXcellence, geoscientists continue to develop their skills while leveraging them through coaching and mentoring, and becoming experts in their chosen area. BP encourages this career long development and many become technical leaders who are very active in the global geoscience arena.

BP believes this structured approach to continuous professional development provides our geoscientists with lifelong learning experiences and builds deep technical capability. It enables our geoscientists to acquire necessary technical skills to make successful business decisions while on the journey to achieve excellence over the course of their geoscience career. While on this most eXcellent adventure, they continue to provide hydrocarbons to power the world we live in.

 

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90158©2012 GCAGS and GC-SEPM 6nd Annual Convention, Austin, Texas, 21-24 October 2012