What does your employer do?
Santos is an Australian oil and gas company, with assets and offices across Australia, Papua New Guinea and Timor-Leste.
What are your areas of responsibility?
I am currently rotating through Operations Geophysics, supervising a geophysical processing project, involving taking seismic data and turning it into a friendlier image of the subsurface. It involves the application of theoretical concepts and mathematics (which I studied at university) to real life situations. Once all the data is processed, it will then be used by exploration and development geophysicists to pick drill locations and understand how much resource is there. My responsibility is to ensure the processed data we are receive meets the standards we need to make these decisions in the future.
Can you describe a typical workday?
My current role is predominantly office-based at a computer, with a few meetings during the week to break things up and field visits a few times per year. I will be in close contact with my peers, the processing company, and the asset team geophysicist through emails every day, making sure the project objectives are being achieved. I use a program called ProMax to view and play around with the seismic data myself, and I will create PowerPoint presentations summarising workflows and highlighting issues.
What are the career prospects with your job?
As a graduate, you are given opportunities to rotate through various roles that spark your interest. I started my journey in Brisbane as a petrophysicist for 10 months (and gained a tan!); then went onto drilling and wellsite experience in operations geology for 6 months before returning to Adelaide to learn about seismic acquisition and processing in my current role. Following this rotation, I am eager to get some experience in exploration, development and possibly finance, and keep acquiring skills and knowledge. The sky’s the limit.
Could someone with a different background do your job?
A geophysics major would be ideal, but maths, physics and geology majors with experience in oil and gas would be able to pick up the job.
What would your career be if you weren’t doing what you’re doing now?
I would be an artist, with my tutoring business on the side.
When have you felt most energised at Santos?
I was fortunate enough to be on a dual lateral well in Fairview which intercepted a vertical well ~2km away. We were using a resistivity tool to help us steer and stay within the coal seam, and a magnet in a nearby vertical well we were aiming to intercept. To be standing on the ground 800m above the churning drill bit, looking at the pressure gauges in anticipation for the pressure drop that would tell us we had successfully intercepted was such an exciting experience to be a part of and such a crazy scientific and technological accomplishment.
When have you felt most challenged?
Looking after 5 rigs for almost 2 weeks was a huge challenge mentally and physically, with 2 calls on average every day and night. With great challenges come steep learning curves and a great sense of responsibility and accomplishment so it is impossible to get bored!
What has been your highlight of the Graduate Program?
Getting out to see the various field operations the business is involved with, from early exploration acquiring seismic data, to drilling a well, completing it and seeing the compressor stations. Everybody is always eager to explain the processes to you and help you understand how everything works.
Recall a time you thought ‘Wow’?
Driving though the beautiful Arcadia Valley, trying to locate older wells and not being able to find them because they were so well hidden. In certain areas in GLNG the wells appear to be very congested on the map, but being out there, it’s a great perspective and makes the whole process feel a lot less impactful on the farming lands.
A word to the wise...
Which three pieces of advice would you give to a current university student? They don’t necessarily have to be related to your role, or even be career-focused.