Special Section: The Value and Future of Petroleum Engineering

JPT asked several active young professionals about their career path thus far and what they liked about petroleum engineering. Here are some of their answers.


Feeling Lucky

Carter Clemens, BP

I lucked into the petroleum industry; I did not know much about it before choosing it as a major at the University of Texas. It has allowed me to live and travel to distant countries I never thought I would visit—whether it is Abu Dhabi, Port of Spain, Cairo, or Aberdeen, the oil industry has an incredible reach to some interesting locations. It has also enabled me to pursue engineering while spending a lot of my time outside instead of in front of a computer screen. When I was riding around with well operators in Wyoming and Colorado, I thought of how lucky I was to not be in a cubicle. There is something special about being on a well-site surrounded by snow in Wyoming or watching a sunrise from a rig in the middle of the ocean—you can’t get that with most industries.

Personal Satisfaction

Bruno S. Rivas, Mexico National Hydrocarbons Commission

Petroleum engineering is more than get-ting oil out of the ground; it means delivering the energy that the world needs to fight poverty, increase human wellness, and accelerate growth in a sustainable way. The oil and gas industry has given me the opportunity to interact with professionals from all over the world, to exchange different experiences, to solve problems in a responsible and efficient manner, and to inspire future generations. With no doubt, if I had to decide again what to study, my choice would be oil and gas; it is certainly not an easy path, but realizing that I’m generating a positive impact on others’ lives is a personal satisfaction.

Let’s Talk Climate Change

Angela Dang Atkinson, Encana Corp.

I love saying, “I’m a petroleum engineer and I believe in anthropogenic climate change.” It catches people off guard and begins a nuanced conversation about energy. It is an opportunity for me to talk about the importance of incremental change and that there is no silver bullet in solving the world’s energy challenges. As Harvard economics professor Ed Glaeser states, “Once we start thinking that there’s a silver bullet…we lose the fact that we need to be working day by day, over decades, to effect change.” We, the oil industry, are among those working day by day to effect change—whether we are increasing the use of recycled fracture water or finding creative ways to reduce emissions, these are the types of incremental gains on the way to better energy solutions. This nuanced conversation should not primarily exist in 150-character tidbits online. It is up to us to have that conversation in a grassroots manner, face to face, with our community.

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