Dr Marcus Schwander, QATAR SHELL
One of the key statistics in the emerging energy future is simple, but daunting: the world will need about
twice as much energy in 2050 as it did in 2005. Solutions are urgently needed, if supply were to keep up
with such a rapid rise in demand. Equally urgent is the need to manage the environmental and social
impacts of this increased energy production.
The days of so-called ‘easy’ oil and gas are over. For instant, gas will be an abundant, acceptable and
affordable resource for years to come but 75% will be unconventional, meaning the gas is coming from
geological settings different than the industry has extracted gas for the past decades. Similar, enhancing
remaining oil production will only happen if the geology and associated hydrocarbon process
are understood properly to deploy effectively and safely the technology. Future hydrocarbon reserves
will be found in ever more difficult, challenging and high cost environments both onshore and offshore,
that require the most innovative technology to deploy. For this fundamental geoscience and deep
geological understand are key to make good business decisions and in creating a sustainable energy
The role of unlocking the world’s remaining hydrocarbon resources, both the traditional conventional
black oil and also new sources, such as oil shales, very heavy oil or gas from coal bed methane or tight
rocks is lead by geosciences. Petroleum Geoscientist are key players in exploration for all these new
potential hydrocarbon reserves, and also in the drive to maximize recovery from those oil and gas fields
already discovered. Whether it’s in deepwater offshore, drilling in 3km of water and to depths of 4 or 5km
below the sea bed, or in the cold barren wastes of the Arctic, it is geoscientists that lead the exploration
effort. They are involved at all stages: from “new ventures”, assessing regional data to focus in the most
prospective global basins, to the ultimate test, drilling the proving well and developing the right strategy
for efficient development of clean energy from fossil fuels.
To locate hydrocarbons in the subsurface requires integrated teams that model the distribution of
reservoirs and source rocks and then locate the traps that may contain the oil. It’s a big high cost game,
with wells costing in remote areas in excess of 100 million dollars. There is no guarantee of success, and
many wells fail (just produce water!) but if large oil and gas reserves are found, the so called “elephants”
that all companies are searching for, there are big rewards. A key role is acquiring the best possible data
to image the subsurface, either seismic data (imaging the rock units 2-4 km below the ground), or
undertaking geochemical, gravity or magnetic surveys. This may also involve fieldwork to examine the
rocks that crop out onshore. And then having acquired the geological information, petroleum geoscientists
interpreted the data using the state-of the art software to produce 3D subsurface models, and construct the
most reliable subsurface geological model. It is moreover the job of a geoscientist to reduce the
exploration risk by improving understanding of the rocks and fluids in the subsurface. To do this means
that oil and gas companies need the best geoscientist, and as the task of exploration gets harder, so the
need for petroleum geoscientists grows. Add to this a rapidly aging workforce in most of the
multinational oil companies, and the result is an ever growing demand for petroleum geoscientists and
If you choose to join a Oil&Gas company in Geosciences, your first role could be in exploration,
Geology/Geophysics, production geology, research or geomatics. On your first assignment, you could be
involved in geological studies for exploration prospect evaluations, field development and well-planning,
well operations, seismic interpretation and static reservoir modelling or developing and testing new
geoscience techniques in a research environment. Your first task could involve, creating advanced
geological models of the subsurface, or defining the reservoir properties or planning development wells in
terms of location and trajectory or creating new ways to access remaining reserves. Whatever your role,
you’ll do a real job from your first day, applying innovative problem-solving skills, lateral thinking and
persistence as you make an important contribution to the energy business.