This essay is written for geoscience students who aspire to a successful career in the oil and gas industry. I present a set of guidelines which I venture to call rules. They are based on my 35 years of experience as a professional geologist working in industry, academia, and government. These rules have as much to do with human behaviour and personality traits as they do with geological intuition. They comprise a set of attributes inherent to success in almost any endeavour, but perhaps especially a career as an oil and gas industry geoscientist.
The 10 rules do not constitute any portion of a geoscience curriculum. They are not lessons that would be taught or learned in university. Perhaps they should be; perhaps one day they will be. Until then, use these rules to your benefit.
1. Rocks don’t lie. The most sophisticated and detailed analytical, petrophysical, geocellular, statistical reservoir model constructed with the most advanced software on the most advanced computer is not worth a hill of beans if it’s not rooted in fundamental empirical observations of the sedimentary rocks that comprise that reservoir.
2. Be passionate about your work. Be passionate about your prospect. Display genuine enthusiasm in all that you do…
3. …but don’t fall in the love with your prospect as it can, and sometimes will, break your heart.
4. Be a team player. Nobody wants to work with an egocentric fool. Expect to encounter difficult, if not impossible, personalities. Learn to deal with them but never compromise your own values.
5. Never force your observations to conform to a preconceived notion. Trust your intuition and trust your gut. Challenge conventional wisdom.
6. There can be nothing more painful than the truth at the end of a drill bit. Expect to make mistakes; learn from them and move on. If you fear being proven wrong, you don’t belong in this industry.
7. Lateral variability within sedimentary strata is the rule, not the exception. Expect it, understand it, and you will learn to predict it.
8. As a corollary to this, the search for homogeneity in the subsurface leads nowhere, as it simply does not exist. At some level and at some scale, every play, even every ‘resource play’, has its degree of heterogeneity.
9. The best technical prospect may never get drilled — for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with geology. Ultimately, decisions are business based. Let it go; learn to move on to the next great opportunity.
10. The bottom line is the bottom line. First and foremost, it’s a business, and success is all about making money.
While these rules may not guarantee success, they will assuredly inhibit failure. Maybe one day you can pay me a royalty!