Geos Are Ready for What Comes Next
An army of geologists stands at the ready. Like action heroes walking away in slow motion from the film’s final grand explosion, they escape tattered and frayed from an oil and gas industry suffering historic carnage. Geologists in the oil and gas industry are used to busts, nothing like the industry has experienced over the past week, but any oil and gas veteran has been laid off or lucky enough to survive a downturn. It’s not easy. But it also instills a certain resilience, optimism, and innovative thinking that allows geologists to pivot to their next opportunity.
Logan, 20th Century Fox
Once demand returns (see? Optimistic!) and drilling activity resumes, more geologists than ever will be ready to get back to work with new data science and programming skills in their tool box ready to unlock more efficiencies and cost savings for an industry that has already been able to achieve higher production numbers while lowering costs.
With most of the nation stuck at home over the past month, many geologists have been using the opportunity to expand their data science skills through free trainings and webinars. Rogii, Inc, a drilling software company, has been hosting online training sessions throughout the month of April, and according to LinkedIn, has already had more than 1000 participants in their Rogii U courses midway through the month. Their upcoming 4 part Python programming training course quickly filled up as geologists scramble to find resources that will allow them to stay relevant in an evolving industry. They are learning how to better harness data visualizations, analytics, forecasting and modeling to unlock drilling and completion efficiencies. Other geologists are turning their attention towards a burgeoning geothermal drilling industry.
Last year, the Department of Energy released a report outlining a pathway to providing electricity for 16% of American homes from geothermal energy by 2050. With more demand for cleaner energy, geothermal continues to attract more attention. One of Bill Gates’ initial investments from his billion dollar clean energy venture capital fund was a geothermal company, Fervo Energy.
Recently, Fervo cofounder Tim Latimer took to Twitter to outline how the oil and gas drilling downturn might be a boon for geothermal drilling thanks to lower prices from oilfield service providers. And the word is spreading. A recent online webinar on geothermal drilling attracted an inordinate number of former and current operations geologists keen to assess the potential of a budding energy source.
Wellsite geology company Field Geo Services, Inc has a team of geologists ready to mobilize to drilling projects that will tap into America’s next clean energy resource. Field Geo Services’ owner and president Scott Field asserts that their geologists are in a better position than other oilfield drilling service companies to quickly dive into geothermal drilling projects. “Some drilling providers won’t be able to quickly pivot to geothermal drilling because of the investment needed to retrofit equipment or buy new tools due to the extreme nature of geothermal drilling”, Field says. “But, thanks to our investment in innovative technologies like mass spectrometry and x-ray fluorescence, we are ready to get on-site tomorrow and determine water permeability from rock mechanics and monitor their heat sensors.”
Whatever the future holds, geologists will definitely be ready. Steve George has been an operations geologist in the oil and gas industry for almost 40 years and has learned from several booms and busts. “Lean times are great springboards for innovation and new direction”, he says. “Being versatile and expanding your talents is something you can always control and will make you a high value geologist.”
Like the hero in the action flick, the geologists will always survive, because there has to be a sequel!