As a Wellsite Geologist, you’d be tasked with studying and classifying rock cuttings from gas and oil wells to determine how drilling should proceed.
Throughout drilling projects, as a Wellsite Geologist, you will liaise with everyone from drilling engineers to petroleum engineers to mudloggers after carrying out specialised tests on core samples, collecting rock-cutting data and building knowledge of the drilling site.
Experienced geologists will make executive decisions on when tests should be conducted and when drilling should stop, providing reports to the head operation geologist and advising oil company representatives. It is also vital for geologists to ensure health and safety requirements are met during drilling operations.
As a Wellsite Geologist you will need to:
- Evaluate data before drilling commences.
- Foresee drilling hazards.
- Advise on drilling bit optimisation.
- Make executive calls on when to suspend and continue drilling.
- Analyse and describe formations before and during the drilling operation by collating data from a variety of sources.
- Compare data from the formation evaluation measurement with the predictions made during the exploration stage.
- Act as an advisor to onsite personnel and the operations office.
- Provide the operations geologist with important updates.
- Attend and organise rig meetings after every shift.
- Represent the onshore geology team while onsite.
- Supervise wireline service teams, mudloggers, core loggers, measurement while drilling (MWD) operators, and logging while drilling (LWD) operators while ensuring quality control.
- Write daily, weekly, and post-operation reports and ensure they are received by the appropriate departments.
- Oversee health and safety while working at the drilling site.
- Keep your knowledge of measurement while drilling tools up to date.
- The starting salary of a wellsite geologist is £25,000 – £45,000.
- The average salary of an experienced wellsite geologist is £35,000 – £120,000, plus up to 50% in bonuses and allowances.
- The salary potential for a senior wellsite geologist exceeds £120,000 per annum. However, wellsite geologists are typically paid on a day-rate basis.
Salaries vary significantly based on location and the type of organisation providing the employment.
As you would expect, working hours depend on the drilling activity; the average Wellsite Geologist works 150 days a year; however, it typically varies between 50 and 200 days.
For offshore geologists, such as those working in the North Sea, 12-hour shifts are common; they are followed by 12 hours off. This pattern typically repeats for two weeks, followed by a 2–3-week onshore break.
What to Expect
- Wellsite Geology is a male-dominated industry.
- Many job opportunities are on offshore oil rigs.
- For geologists in the UK, the nearest opportunities are on the North Sea rigs; travelling to rigs further afield can be difficult as they are in remote areas.
- Working conditions will typically be noisy, dirty, and in bad weather conditions.
- Most geologists work as consultants on a self-employed basis.
- Living conditions on rigs vary; while some provide very basic living conditions, others are kitted out with games rooms and gyms. Most rigs will also provide laundry services and meals.
- While working offshore, there will be considerable disruption to home and personal life.
Before applying for a trainee or junior wellsite geologist position, applicants will need an undergraduate or postgraduate degree in geology or earth science, such as sedimentology, geochemistry, or mineral engineering. Degrees in chemistry and physics can also help wellsite geologists to secure job roles.
As the job market is competitive, field experience is also crucial. Most wellsite geologists gain experience in the field as a logging geologist or mudlogger.
Successful wellsite geologists will need to show they have:
- The ability to supervise and lead a team.
- Sharp written and oral communication skills.
- The capacity to work alone and in a multidisciplinary team.
- Critical and analytical thinking skills.
- The ability to share opinions with conviction.
- Understanding of sophisticated technology.
- Scientific analysis and mathematical skills.
- The ability to make executive decisions at any given time.
- An understanding of the drilling operations, and any potential implications.
- The ability to work with people from different cultures for extended periods.
- IT competency.
- Offshore fire qualifications.
- The ability to pass fitness and survival tests.
- The capacity to cope with the pressure of a stressful work environment.
Applicants may also benefit from foreign language skills, as you will typically be working with people from different countries.
Companies don’t typically employ wellsite geologists straight from university. You will need to build field experience before as a mudlogger, data engineer, or wireline logger; it takes commitment, hard work, patience and determination to secure a position as a wellsite geologist. Many geologists find their feet on the career ladder via a recommendation from a senior geologist who can vouch for their work.
The job market is highly volatile, and it isn’t uncommon for geologists to change their employer to scale the career ladder.
Wellsite geologists are responsible for their own career development; maintaining good working relationships with oil companies and becoming their preferred contractor is the best way of ensuring continuity in employment. It can also be beneficial to become a chartered geologist with the Geological Society.
With enough experience as a wellsite geologist, it is possible to progress into operational geologist and reservoir engineer roles. Other geologists choose to undertake further training to become petrophysicists.
Most wellsite geologists are employed by specialist consultancies, which help gas and oil companies source contractors on an as-and-when basis. Recruitment typically happens on a regional basis; however, given the global nature of the industry, some recruiters can recruit globally.
Away from specialist consultancies, some small to medium size companies that provide drilling services may hire independent wellsite geologists on a daily rate. With these companies, it isn’t uncommon for geologists to meet their own insurance and training costs.
The UWS BSc (Hons) Chemistry degree is taught on the Paisley campus; the flexible nature of the degree, which largely revolves around learning through practical sessions, allows students to tailor their studies around their interests and career goals. The course can prepare graduates for careers in a wide range of industries, including environmental analysis. The practical and theory-based lessons will also equip graduates with problem-solving, analytical and numeracy skills.