What's your job about?
Chevron Australia is an integrated energy company whose mission is to deliver affordable, reliable and ever cleaner energy to Australia and the Asia-Pacific region. Our operations are focused on the exploration and development of oil and gas reserves offshore North-West Australia and the processing of these hydrocarbons into Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) and domestic gas.
As a graduate at Chevron, you have the opportunity to gain experience in multiple areas through three different role rotations – currently, I am completing my second rotation as a Reservoir Engineer. As a Reservoir Engineer, I am focused on upstream activities, working with a range of people including Earth Scientists and Production Engineers to optimise production strategies and reduce uncertainty relating to subsurface characterisation in order to ensure we have reliable reservoir models. These models are used to predict the performance of our reservoirs which in turn allows us to make informed decisions for future projects.
One of the projects I am currently working on is the start-up plan for the Gorgon Stage 2 (GS2) wells which were drilled and completed in 2019/2020. I was lucky enough to be out in the field during the GS2 drilling campaign as a Field Drilling Engineer during my first rotation in the graduate program and feel fortunate that I am able to now experience the value these wells bring to the subsurface team.
What's your background?
I grew up in Perth’s Northern suburbs. I was always interested in STEM subjects at school and was fascinated learning about the physics behind the real world we see all around us. When it came time to decide what I wanted to pursue after high school, engineering felt like the natural choice. I wasn’t entirely sure what discipline of engineering I wanted to major in, so I decided to study at Curtin University as they offered a broad engineering foundation year where we had the opportunity to be exposed to all different disciplines before choosing our major. To be honest, before university I didn’t even know petroleum engineering existed! After hearing about the petroleum engineering major, I researched potential careers and was surprised to hear that Western Australia is one of the biggest oil and gas hubs in the world! The oil price was over $100 per barrel and the opportunity to work on some world renowned, technically challenging projects sounded too good to pass up, so I eagerly enrolled for the petroleum engineering major.
I soon became aware of the volatility a resource driven industry is exposed to with the oil price crashing around the latter half of my undergraduate degree. During my studies, I was lucky enough to complete two vacation programs within industry. These internships confirmed to me that I enjoyed solving complex problems and working with a diverse range of people, so I wanted to stay in the oil and gas industry. Unable to secure a graduate role I took six months off before enrolling in a Master of Chemical Engineering at Curtin University. I felt that this would allow me to gain a better understanding of downstream activities and give me a more holistic view of the resource sector. During my Masters, I completed vacation work with Chevron Australia. During my internship I realised that not only was this a company that could challenge me and make me a better engineer it was also a company that aligned with my values. Upon completing my vacation program with Chevron, I was offered the opportunity to return as a graduate petroleum engineer once I finished the last year of my studies. I happily accepted the offer and have now been with Chevron for just over two years.
Although I never planned for the ups and downs that getting a graduate role would entail, the challenges I faced made me more resilient and forced me to further develop both technical and non-technical skills which has ultimately made me a better engineer.
Could someone with a different background do your job?
Engineering, no matter what discipline it may be, is about finding innovative solutions to complex problems. I think university provides you with a great understanding of fundamental theory; however, ultimately you are taught how to think like an engineer. Therefore, from a technical side I believe any engineering graduate who has developed their analytical and problem solving skills could be a Petroleum Engineer.
Petroleum engineers work collaboratively within diverse teams and so the ability to work well in a group environment is very important. Great communication skills are also necessary as you need to be able to explain complex problems and share ideas to find solutions with a range of people from different backgrounds, from Earth Scientists to economists.
Lastly, I think to truly succeed as a Petroleum Engineer you need a growth mindset – we are constantly trying to push the boundary, using innovative technologies to overcome challenges in a sustainable way, so the ability to learn from mistakes and take opportunities to improve is a great skill that Petroleum Engineers should have.
What's the coolest thing about your job?
One of the best things about my job is that I get to spend my day doing interesting work with interesting people. It’s rewarding knowing that I can contribute to solving some of the worlds most challenging problems and I get to do this with people who have creative ideas and are passionate about innovation. Petroleum engineers get to dive deep into technical work. I think it’s pretty cool that with my team, I work on trying to understand how hydrocarbons move between the tiny pore spaces in the rocks located kilometres below the Earth’s surface.
What are the limitations of your job?
The oil and gas industry, like any resource driven industry, is very volatile. During low oil prices it’s difficult to make new projects economical. Petroleum engineers not only have to face technical challenges we also need to overcome economic challenges. This may mean that we have to compromise on project activities or even defer projects all together which can at times be frustrating. It’s always good to remember that the industry is dynamic, technology is constantly evolving and by thinking outside the box you can contribute to making projects more sustainable.
3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...