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Building a career as a Geoscientist in the face of a declining oil & gas industry in Nigeria.


Geoscientist oil & gas industry Nigeria Richmond Okezie

A little Background

Remember when you were in school & had romantic fantasies about landing a job in the oil & gas industry with your high GPAs? Lol. Hasn’t been easy right? All the lucrative jobs in the industry require years of experience.


The entry level geoscientists roles occasionally hired by Exxonmobil, Shell and Total are highly competitive and they will still prefer ones with some level of experience. I read somewhere that geoscience with regards to oil exploration was a hot field in Nigeria back in the day when these IOCs were aggressively exploring. Nowadays, they’re more focused on developing and having appraisals of discovered fields, so the demand has gone down for Geoscientists. This makes sense, truly the oil & gas industry is no longer what it used to be.

Nevertheless, I’ve been hearing news of new exploration activities going on in the northern part of the country and some discoveries. So there’s that.


You can't wait for the International Oil Companies forever.

You should seriously look at indigenous companies, most service oil fields of several E & P Companies, this will keep you productively occupied and you’d still gain experience, although the pay may be small but this platform will help you do & become more. By becoming more i mean a more specialized post graduate degree. When you add this to your acquired experience, certainly you can afford to send blind emails to these IOCs, register in the career sections of their sites, reach out to their recruiters on LinkedIn. You've upgraded.


Pursuing postgraduate degrees.

What this affords you is the opportunity to specialise in an area of knowledge that will further solidify your portfolio, in addition to getting the skills needed to climb to the next step of your career.

Do not just go for anything that sounds nice and sophisticated, rather, research how this area fits into what you have planned for yourself and your existing knowledge, skills and background.

This is even more important if you are planning to study abroad, because most of the courses abroad are drafted with a regional essense of that knowledge area, except for the international programs, therefore that course might have a significant impact in the region you studied it abroad but little to no impact in the region you come from and where you will eventually practice your career. So research, reach out to industry experts on LinkedIn, but within your country and outside and get their opinions regarding your plan.

If you can afford to get this degree overseas, it'll make a lot of difference, trust me. Even the indigenous and international companies respect people that are trained overseas, you know this. But it's still okay if you can't afford it, find a local program that's worth it.


Exploring the wide range of opportunities in Geosciences

There are lots of opportunities in geosciences beyond the oil and gas industry in Nigeria. You should set your eyes beyond the oil and gas industry, to manage your expectations and reality. Not everyone will work in that industry. Here are some of the job options;

The ones that relate directly to your degree:

  • Engineering geologist

  • Geochemist

  • Geophysicist

  • Geotechnical engineer

  • Hydrogeologist

  • Mudlogger

  • Wellsite geologist

The ones you can do because of your degree:

  • Drilling engineer

  • Minerals surveyor

  • Environmental engineer

  • Quarry manager

There are more job options, these were the ones I could find. The above listed options are found in a range of industries not limited to the oil & gas, including construction and civil engineering, solid minerals and mining, environmental consultancy.


Skills you must pick up and sharpen.

In addition to the core skills you've picked up during your educational training, you should pay attention to the following skills as you will need them to survive going forward;

  • Data: This is an integral part of who you are as a geoscientist. From observation, collection, analysis and interpretation, to preparation, processing and presentation. Data is everything and you should do everything you can to have a good grasp of this, including the tools needed for it.

  • Technical Report Writing: The ability to go into the field, carry out your work and report this in a way that stakeholders understand and need is another vital skill you should pick. The different tools and formats used in writing technical reports, and how information is presented therein.

  • Team Working: More often, you will work in teams, with people from other areas of specialty and skills, but towards a common goal. You should be able to conduct yourself in a way that you are a meaningful and team spirited member of the team.

  • Continuous Learning: The ability to continually seek to learn and keep updated with developments in your chosen field and industry.

Networking

Understand that you cannot exist in isolation in this industry, even when you consider yourself a rookie.

To take advantage of opportunities, you must always seek out and explore where they are situated, and industry events and network is one sure place.

You must keep tabs on all the events in your industry, a lot of these are free; attending such events will help you meet people from different areas and companies that open your eyes and mind to new things. Thanks to LinkedIn and zoom, a lot of these meetings are virtual nowadays. Search on LinkedIn and connect with people in your industry, within and outside the country, reach out to them about meaningful issues and hold conversations with them. Subscribe and read indsutry journals too.


At the end of the day, no external factor can limit you but yourself. The oil & gas industry or any other industry can't hold you down, only you can hold yourself down. Open your mind and laptop, and get to work building the career you want and deserve.


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