What Does a Petroleum Geologist Do?

Issuing time:2019-07-27 00:00

What Does a Petroleum Geologist Do? Five Things!

Step 1 – The Petroleum Geologist Prospects ...

Net Pay Map Made By Petroleum Geologist

Petroleum geologists are scientists that work to discover new oil and gas deposits.   Petroleum geology is a “science of sciences.”   The geologist puts skills in geology, physics, chemistry, biology, and other fields to the practical task of locating energy sources.

Prospecting is the work the petroleum geologist does to locate a place to drill a test hole, which hopefully can be turned into a producing oil or gas well!

Most petroleum geologists spend 90% of their time in an office, where they have access to a huge amount of data. This includes electric logs, core records, drilling records, scout tickets, and production data. They use the data to construct maps, structural cross-sections, and databases.   These tools help them locate the best places to drill their test holes.

The geologist will construct many contour maps to help her locate the prospect.   She will make many cross-sections and run numerous computer simulations that help her select the next location to drill. She is always thinking about the next drilling location…or prospect!

He will want to know what type of trap he is dealing with, and the composition of the sedimentary rocks he will be drilling through. He needs to estimate the porosity of his prospective “pay zone.” He wants to know if dangerous high pressures can be expected in the new hole. If seismic data is involved in the prospect, he will consult with the geophysicist and get his opinion of the prospect.

In certain areas, it will be necessary to use biostratigraphy to help pinpoint the location.

The petroleum geologist is always interested in anything that happens in her area, particularly news of new discoveries by other companies!   If she sees a promising new area, she will recommend to the land department that an attempt be made to lease the land; the leased acreage will then be available for drilling later.

When the geologist has finally found the best place, she will “spot” or locate the well using the land survey system most appropriate to the area.   She spends much time cross-checking to ensure she has not missed anything. She wants to make sure she is not “surprised” by any of the following:

Discovering the selected location was already drilled by another company 40 years ago (and was dry)

Discovering that her company has no legal right to drill on the location (lease problems)

Unexpected faults or other geologic problems that crop up during drilling and ruin the prospect

Discovering that the hole is being drilled in the wrong place after drilling begins (a very bad thing that has actually happened!)

Step 2 – The Petroleum Geologist Packages The Deal


Once the new location is defined, and the geologist is satisfied the prospect is a good one, the work is just beginning. He has a large amount of rough data available in the form of work maps, that he used to satisfy himself of the feasibility.   Now, he must condense this large data mass into a set of presentation materials that can be shown and explained to non-geologists.

To package the deal, he will prepare sets of simplified maps and stratigraphic cross-sections, highly-colored and attractive to the eye. He may use Powerpoint, or other presentation software. Creativity, design sense, and art skills are important during this phase. He needs to anticipate all possible questions, and be prepared to answer each one of them. He must be very sure of himself and his facts before he moves to the next step.

Step 3 – The Petroleum Geologist Sells the Deal

5 steps - Sell The Deal - Petroleum Geologists

Now the geologist must step into a role that is often uncomfortable for him … selling his prospect. It may be uncomfortable because geologists are scientists, with scientific backgrounds and schooling. They are used to talking to other scientists. But now the geologist must become a salesman in order to convince people who are not geology experts of the value of the prospect.   These people may include managers, bankers, engineers, and oil and gas investors.

Of course, the geologist wants to see her prospect drilled.   She will use all of her ability to present it in the best light.   There is a lot of room for interpretation with any prospect (that’s what makes it fun).   But, she will take great pains to ensure all her data is presented accurately and concisely.   She is bound by her own integrity, the integrity of any professional group she is a member of, and the integrity of her profession.

She is looking to convince her clients that the prospect is worth drilling,

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