June 29, 2016

Sean Murphy-2011

bigbend I was essentially unaware that geology was a topic that could be studied for a lifetime or a career option until I arrived at Lafayette College in the fall of 2007. At that time, the term “global warming” was in the news a lot and I thought I should learn about it, so I took GEO115 – Earth’s Climate: Past, Present, and Future. The novel information and scientific concepts presented were inspiring. I vividly remember approaching my first geology professor, Dr. Kira Lawrence, near the end of that course and proudly telling her that I wanted to be a geologist.

 I am currently employed full-time as a petroleum geologist at Southwestern Energy Company in Houston, Texas. Southwestern is an oil and gas exploration and production company focused on finding and delivering hydrocarbon fuels, mainly through horizontal drilling and hydraulically fracturing of North American shales. Southwestern Energy has major acreage positions in Arkansas, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Louisiana, and Colorado.

 Following graduation from Lafayette College in May of 2011, I began pursuing my Professional Master of Science in Subsurface Geoscience at Rice University in Houston. This program allowed me to continue developing as a young geologist with specific application to the energy industry. Living in Houston also afforded me the opportunity to have direct personal contact with many geologists already active within the industry. I interned at Southwestern Energy while completing my degree which was instrumental in my transition between school and work.

 Besides geology, the one thing that I discovered at Lafayette that has trDSC_0072uly become a part of who I am is the sport of Ultimate Frisbee. As a freshman, I learned that ‘Ultimate’ is a 7-v-7 team sport that requires dedication, focus, and an excellent attitude. I ended up playing all four years at Lafayette, continued playing for Rice University, and still play on a Houston club team to this day. Growing from a lowly freshman player to a team leader over my 4 years at Lafayette helped me learn about the processes of personal and group development – I am thankful for that experience and knowledge as I have reflected on it relative to the ‘teams’ (ultimate, work, friend groups) I have been a part of since Lafayette.
coloradoIt *almost* feels cliche to say – but being a part of the first student groups to travel to the Bighorn Basin in Wyoming as part of a fully geologically-integrated and geologically-immersive endeavor is the one experience that has had the largest impact on my life since. It was that experience that (1) solidified my belief that I wanted to be a geologist (2) brought my geological know-how to a completely new level and (3) began my thought-process regarding a potential career in oil and gas.
Get your masters degree! There are hundreds of schools, thousands of professors, and even more geologic topics to study, but choosing one and getting a masters degree is a (nearly) universal requirement for employment as a geologist in the oil and gas industry right now.
Be confident in your abilities – geology and otherwise. If you’ve done your work, the professors in Van Wickle will have outfitted you with the knowledge and passion required to be a successful geologist in any pursuit (oil/gas or otherwise). This extends beyond distinguishing a sandstone from a limestone to public speaking, presentation, and writing skills. Those skills are important when it comes time to explain why the geology you’ve been working on is important.


Links to some programs I have attended:

Other companies that employ geologists in the oil and gas field include: Noble Energy, Newfield Exploration, EOG, Apache, Schlumberger, FEI, Isotech, Weatherford, BHP, Anadarko Petroleum Company, Murphy Oil, Whiting Petroleum. See these company’s recent stock performance and other industry trends here and here.