A former classmate of mine published this article on wellsite life for a Geologist. It's extremely insightful for both those coming to be and those in the office who have not had the opportunity to see the ins and outs of the career. Often wellsite is oversimplified as it is easy to do with any job, have a great wellsite geologist is just like having great insurance. Enjoy the read: Practical Guide to Wellsite Geology
Hi, welcome to my first blog. A few weeks ago I met up with a classmate over a coffee and caught up on what we are working on, areas that we are having successes in and area we are struggling. This is where the idea of blogging about wellsite and geology in general started. There seems to be limited information about the specifics, the rush of the job, the lows and everything inbetween. So here is it! My goal is to post photos and useful information to anyone looking.
I have a bit of a summary on the side bar about myself I figure the first post its best to introduce myself in whole.
As mentioned over there --> I was pretty much a born and raised Geologist. Before going to grade school I would go out to work with my Father, where I began my training. I washed samples, went up to the drilling floor and knew once the logging truck was on site it was not long until we got to pack up and go home. I did as a 4 year old, spend majority of my time on the top bunk in the shack watching cartoons all day!!! I was pretty sad when I had to give it all up and go school..
Once in school my Mother would pack up the family, all the Christmas presents and we would drive all across Alberta to spend Christmas as a family. Really those are the Christmas' I remember most. One year Mom past a semi-truck just as we were suppose to be turning off onto the logging road, ending up playing hide and seek for hours with the rig (a game every Wellsite Geologist has a love hate relationship with). Back then there was no cellphones so we drove into Nordegg got straighten out and headed to the rig.
My teenage summers were spent washing top hole samples in the backyard (pre-invert days), pretty much the best and worse job. I got to hang out at home in the backyard, setup some music blasting and be in the sun all day. The worst part: getting samples that there was no Geologist on site, the Roughneck taking the sample directly from the shale shaker without washing it, aka mud rock once it hardened. Washing 100s of meters of samples that are 99% drilling mud and 1% sample.... ....THE WORST!!! It would take 30 minutes to wash all the mud out, leaving me seemed like nothing and then it would take 2-3 hours to dry on the vacuum. I would have gone in the kitchen to cook them but I would have been kicked out of the house for sure. Oh and I did not mention, I was paid per a sample, thus some days I made less then $10 for a days worth of work. Other days when the Roughneck did his job or the samples with 100% sandstone, I made big progress.
When I turned 16, I got a 2000 Chevy Blazer on the terms:
1) Both my Brother and I had made a deal with my Father if we did not smoke by the time we were 16, he would buy use a vehicle. If we smoked between 16-18, he could take it away. After 18, he said if we started then well that was our decision because we were adults at that point. Worked out pretty good, both my brother and I do not smoke.
2) My Brother got a car, I got 4x4.... ....so I can go to work and pay it off! My Chevy Blazer then became my rig-mobile.
From 16 to my 1st year in university, I went to the University of Calgary, I worked summers, Christmas and any break I could fit in out on the rigs as a sample washer on fast drilling vertical wells. I got paid peanuts, I think I paid more in fuel to get to location, but also got a lot of on the job training. After training up an entire summer to work as a wellsite geologist after my 1st year of uni, I finally got my first well solo. Man was it scary, everyone figures Coach's kid gets it easy and extra ice time, not this one! There was a reputation on the line and I had one shot to prove myself. Sink or swim. I guess I did not to bad cause I got another shot, and another, and so on. After 3 wells that summer I had to go back to school, man was I bummed! I worked that Christmas and then the following summer, after 3rd year I landed a Summer Student Position with Cenovus. Although I loved the field this was my shot at having a office job downtown. Pretty stoked about it! I worked my 4 months and then had a small window to pop out on some wells. The industry was pretty busy these days and it was a last minute thing, the company needed someone out there the only person to cover it was myself so I got the call out.
Now this work was interesting! The office geo did not want me describing samples or anything, just make sure the gas detector was working! The one and only priority. who asks for that? I thought I was getting paid way too much to just watch a gas detection, called home base, explained what the geo was asking, and got the old "Nope, do what you were trained to do". This is of course what I did, before the well was even TD'd the geo who only wanted a gas detector was calling me asking me all about what I was seeing and he could not wait to see the striplog. Luckily I stuck to my training and was able to provide it to him as soon as the bottom sample was circulated up, washed and described. A great learning experience, be diligent it always pays off.
These set of wells were being drilled in an area that had not seen a drilling rig in 30 years, unfortunately I was pulled off the program to go back to school, again! I had already missed the first week of classes but that is the first week, nothing is covered. Second week however, that was not going to happen. School always getting in the way, oh well I had only one year left.
I was able to work part time through the winter semester with Trilogy Energy on a project and then in the spring landed another Summer Student position with Suncor. This project was a heavy oil project that in the last month got a lot of attention and became exciting to work on. At one point, they were going to pull it from the Student Presentations at the end of the summer however the title had already been announced and doing that would create more attention so we had to go through and cut out any possible useful information. At the same time Suncor was talking about offering a full time position, however this fell apart in the last hours of my contract and I was sent packing. I walked straight back onto a rig without skipping a beat. Suncor ended up coming back with a 6 week contract to wrap up my project, knowing ultimately 6 weeks they knew if they were seeing anything long term after and luckily my team lead there was straight with me and said no. With this I decided to stick with wellsite.
After a busy fall, my longest stretch of working was 34 days which I was more than happy to do as I was freshly finished school and money hungry (man would that be nice in this market to have), I sat a few wells for Trilogy Energy, After being out there the office geologist approached me about a full time operations position. I figured this is what I had been working for, I made the transition and started life as a full time office geologist... ...or at least I thought!
Looking back Trilogy was an amazing experience, I was surrounded by a team with tons of experience that I could go to at anytime for help. My second day on the job I was given 3 rigs to watch over which quickly turned into 4. In 2 years I drilled roughly 120 wells, industry was busy, we were busy and I was actually drilling... ...alot! However over the 2 years I found myself missing the wellsite life and really struggling with the office atmosphere. I missed being outside, the crazy hours, the high pressure and stress, and coming home to be 100% a holiday whereas now home was work, going out was work, my whole day was work. I was watching wells all the time, I always had to be within cell service, have my documents with me, etc. I would wake up in the middle of the night in a panic that I left my phone on silent and my wellsite guy was trying to get ahold of me, First thing I would do in the morning is check all my rigs and emails. After two years I found myself burnt out, always getting sick and completely unhappy. I made the choice to resign and go travel. I spent the summer in BC at the cabin which I had not done since I was under 16. And then my traveling plans go put on the back burner, I found out my partner and I were expecting our son.
Since I was not able to travel much I headed back out to the field, here I worked from September until December until I was 7 months and then switched into the office for Keitech until the birth of my son, Once he was 3 months old I began working again part time to keep active, this allowed me to be mommy and still work on my career. Some weeks were a lot of work and some weeks were baby week. Now my son is 19 months and I am back full time loving both roles.
That concluded the last 24 years of me and my geology career. Hope I did not bore you through it all and to share a lot of information in the future.
Check out our company LinkedIn page or my personal page. We also have Instagram and Facebook.
Thanks for reading!
Hi, I am Megan Miller pretty much a born and raised Geologist, my training days started when I was 4 years old this included the tasks of washing samples, seeing what was going on in the Doghouse and logging truck. Our family has even spent a few Christmas' on the rigs with Charlie Brown Christmas Trees and the water hauler making a skating rink for us to play some puck. I worked my summers since I was 16 either on the rigs or once in University for oil and gas companies.