A geoscientist is involved in the discovery, exploration and development of natural resources such as gas, oil and water. They interpret geophysical, geochemical and geological data to develop models of the subsurface of the earth, with the aim of discovering commercially viable and exploitable reserves of natural resources, such as oil and gas.

Geoscientists provide the foundation for the exploration and production of natural resources. They are also involved in the production of reserves and may provide specialist advice for engineering projects. Geoscientists work in a variety of roles within the natural resources sector. Job titles such as geophysicist, geologist, geochemist and sedimentologist are also used for specialist roles within geoscience.


Typical Work Activities

  • Collecting information in the field, from seismic and well data and other sources.
  • Monitoring the acquisition of data to ensure consistent quality.
  • Interpreting data to determine subsurface geology and the economic importance of natural resources, using sophisticated technical software.
  • Developing geological models of the earth’s subsurface to understand the geological structure, rock characteristics and the likely distribution of oil/gas/mineral-bearing strata.
  • Interpreting the results in consultation with other earth science professionals.
  • Assessing the potential quality of mineral and hydrocarbon resources.
  • Collaborating with drilling engineers to determine drilling locations on the basis of the interpretation of the data and models developed.
  • Producing and presenting geological maps and reports.
  • Performing detailed geological risk analysis of proposed exploration targets.
  • Planning and undertaking an exploration drilling programme, after collecting and modelling all available data.
  • Planning the location and trajectory of development wells and putting well proposals together in conjunction with the multidisciplinary team.
  • Creating new opportunities to access remaining reserves.
  • Implementing new technologies in geological modelling and seismic processing.
  • Advising engineers and senior management on geological factors affecting exploration.

As oil resources decline, the role of the geoscientist will change from exploration-dominated to production-dominated employment.


Technical Skills

  • The capacity to work in multidisciplinary teams, especially with engineers in production, where it is helpful to have some basic knowledge about specialities outside geoscience.
  • A strong technical grounding and an understanding or knowledge of industry-specific techniques (more often learnt on the job).
  • A good understanding of earth science concepts and the ability to apply them to new situations.
  • A deeper understanding of several specific fields, such as stratigraphy or seismic interpretation.
  • A wider appreciation of general science, such as physics or engineering.
  • The ability to learn quickly.
  • Good it skills.
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills.


Career Development

Some companies have mentoring systems in place which link you to a senior member of staff, who can help plan your career and advise you professionally. Some also provide networking events and offer a variety of placements with opportunities to work at different sites and on a variety of projects to help build your experience.

Relatively early positions of responsibility would be as team leader for an asset, such as an individual oil field or development prospect, coordinating the work of geologists and geophysicists. It is fairly easy to broaden your knowledge by moving between exploration and production – the role of the geoscientist is similar in both contexts. Depending on the company, career progression may lead to managerial or technical specialist positions. Geoscientists in oil companies may move into senior positions involving professional and technical management. It is also possible to move into consultancy.

The ability to relocate, possibly internationally, will put you at an advantage for career progression. The larger companies offer chances to take overseas assignments at an early stage. North Sea operations are changing, and many smaller companies are being established or are moving into the area as the larger groups leave. They are likely to require experienced staff to take on positions with considerable responsibility. If you decide to move outside the oil industry, there is scope for employment within the oil divisions of investment banks or energy groups, applying your experience to investment decisions.



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