GLOBAL PROCESSES IN THE PETROLEUM INDUSTRY: A GEOSCIENCE PERSPECTIVE AND IMPLICATIONS FOR ACADEMIA
The practice of Petroleum Geoscience in 1980 was quite different than today. The industry was embarking on a massive hiring effort driven by record oil prices. Many of us practiced our trade in small regional offices, most often recruiting at nearby universities, using highly variable standards. Performance was measured against relatively few people, and standards governing mapping quality and reservoir prediction were constrained by the collective knowledge and wisdom held by these few local practitioners. Given high product prices, these shortcomings could be forgiven. But in 1986, crude oil prices fell sharply, initiating a scramble for effectiveness and efficiency that still has not abated.
Today we are framing global hiring standards, and concentrating recruitment at the most competitive universities worldwide. We are sending work to where our people are, not locating regional offices near assets. Performance is measured against company Geoscientists worldwide. With consolidation, standards have risen. We relentlessly gather, update and disseminate best practices, to achieve high mapping quality and best available application of reservoir prediction technology, wherever we do business. With these advances, we require significantly fewer workers to find, develop and produce significantly more oil and gas than in 1980.
While demand for graduates should increase somewhat to deal with oncoming retirements, it is unlikely to return to 1980 levels. It is reasonable to expect that university Geoscience programs will undergo their own version of globalization of processes, and we see evidence for this already. Some departments are seeking to export their curricula to foreign countries where there is established demand for these products. Others are collaborating with foreign programs, enriching both while raising standards. Graduates of such programs will enjoy greater employability, as they will be better prepared and more likely to be located in countries with high demand.