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Insight: How can companies develop and retain Petro-technical professionals?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

What should oil & gas companies do to develop, train, motivate and thereby retain Petro-technical Professionals?

How can they turn 'raw material', recent recruits whether graduates or folk with a few years experience in an oil field service company, into exploration, reservoir and operations leaders?

Once I had got past being a humble geophysical researcher at BP, I had various jobs, firstly Chief Geophysicist in Aberdeen, Houston and then London (1986 -1995), and then later Head of Exploration (from 2000, until I retired in 2003) in which I had to help figure out and/or figure out for myself how you motivate, retain, develop and train the integrators and synergistic thinkers who you can trust with the company's money in exploration and reservoir management. The best starting material consisted of bright people with niche MScs and PhDs, or perhaps folks with a specialist technical background who had joined us from an oil field service company.

One thing I truly believe is that strong career growth, access to development opportunities and training are intimately linked. In fact, motivation and retention follow development and training.

So my Context is the career development of Exploration, Reservoir, and Petroleum Engineering Managers, or Consultants. as shown here:

Level* Role
C Exploration, Reservoir, Petroleum Engineering Manager or Senior Consultant
D Project/Team Leader or Consultant
E Individual Contributor

*Levels A and B are available for Executive and Senior Management. The Consultant route equates to a Technical Ladder.

This development Context then provides the framework for training courses in:

Level Exploration Reservoir Petroleum Engineering

  • Negotiating
  • Decision Making(1)
  • Regional Politics & Security
  • Petroleum Economics

  • Negotiating
  • Decision Making(2)
  • Production Economics
  • Surface & Well Operations

  • Negotiating
  • Decision Making(2)
  • Production Economics
  • Surface & Well Operations


  • Integrated Petroleum Geoscience
  • Regional or thematic knowledge
  • (Deep Water; Africa; SE Asia; Unconventionals; Arctic etc)

  • Integrated Reservoir Geoscience
  • Integrated Reservoir Dynamics
  • Field-type knowledge (Deep Water Clastics; Carbonates etc)

  • Integrated Petroleum Engineering
  • Integrated Reservoir Dynamics
  • Field-type knowledge (Deep Water Clastics; Carbonates etc)
  • Digital Oil Field


  • Petroleum Systems
  • Seismic Interpretation
  • Petrophysics
  • Sedimentology & Stratigraphy
  • Non-seismic geophysics
  • Reserves & Risk Estimation
  • Field Courses (Deep Water reservoirs; Structural Geology)
  • Information Management

  • Reservoir Modelling
  • Reservoir Surveillance
  • Resources & Reserves Estimation
  • 3D & 4D Seismic
  • Reservoir Dynamics
  • Log Interpretation
  • Reservoir Sedimentology & Stratigraphy
  • Information Management

  • Reservoir Modelling
  • Resources & Reserves Estimation
  • Reservoir Dynamics
  • Cased Hole & Production Log Interpretation
  • Drilling & Completions (including Pore/Fracture Pressures; Pressure Testing; Well-bore Stability)
  • Information Management

(1) Opportunity and Prospect Ranking
(2) Ranking In-field Opportunities

In addition to training, the other key development component is the movement between different jobs in different assets and different locations.

Look after yourself!

Following – for yourself – the program and principles outlined above should help you manage your own career, to your expectations.
And, in view of the history and precedents of the last 30 years in our industry, you would be perhaps unwise to manage your career by taking too much notice of this sort of thing!

Author: David Bamford
Company: Petromall

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