- B.S. Physics, 1975-1978
- Bristol University
- Ph.D. Geophysics, 1978-1981
- Cambridge University
- Post Doctoral Research
"I think the challenges in the oil business are just absolutely phenomenal! I mean, there's nowhere else where you do everything almost blind."
I have always been interested in the way things work and why things happen. I was an experimenter from an early age and my first "success" was dismantling a clock and almost putting it back together again at age 4.
In school I enjoyed the sciences and so took physics at Bristol University. By then I was really interested in geophysics and finding out about the way the earth works. So after Bristol I want to Cambridge University to do a Ph.D. related to plate tectonics and what drives the continents to move around. I studied thermal convection in the earths mantle to try and understand how this is related to the distribution of volcanic uprising at the mid ocean ridges and deep trenches where ocean sea floor dives back into the earth. I did this using model fluids to represent the slow flow of hot rocks. As I didn't have millions of years for the experiments, I used a less viscous fluid that still had a very temperature dependent viscosity, like rock, and behaved in a similar way. The best choice was Lyles Golden Syrup! Easy to dispose of to hungry students provided you could keep the ants at bay.
After my Ph.D I did two years further study at Cambridge but felt I wanted to work on topics that were less pure science and had more immediate impact on the world around me. So in September 1983 I joined Schlumberger as a Research Scientist in the Fluid Mechanics Department putting to work the skills I had acquired. There was a lot of variety from studies of how to measure the flow of oil, water and gas in oil wells, to seeing how to determine properties of the reservoir by flowing oil and measuring pressures and onto how to optimize drilling bit performance.
In 1987 I started working on modeling how gas can flow into a well whilst drilling. If nothing is done to control the flow of gas then a run away reaction occurs eventually leading to a "blowout" when gas flows freely to the surface and can catch fire. This is what you see in the movies with Red Adair coming to put it out. Our objective was to stop it happening in the first place.
Working with British Petroleum and the UK Department of Energy we produced a computer simulator that would allow engineers to plan for problems and develop contingencies to avoid them and to learn from mistakes. This program is now sold to our clients by Anadrill, one of the Schlumberger family of companies.
I then got my first taste of international life when I was transferred to Sedco Forex in Paris in March 1990 as Drilling Engineering manager. We developed real time computer monitoring systems to help drillers on our fleet of rigs. It was great fun and I got to see quite a lot of our overseas operations.
In December 1993 I moved to Wireline & Testing as General Manager of the Perforating and Testing center in Rosharon, Texas. This center is responsible for manufacturing the explosive charges that we use in perforating guns run into oil wells. They make holes in the steel casing, used to support the wellbore, and let the oil or gas flow in. Running not only engineering but also manufacturing brought new challenges.
I then moved to Aberdeen, Scotland and worked on growing a new business for monitoring and controlling the flow of oil from wells. By making measurements of pressure and flow amongst other things and tying them to models of the reservoir we hope to significantly increase the amount of hydrocarbons recovered.
That brings me up to date when I moved to Anadrill in March 1997 as the world wide marketing manager. In my new job I have the challenge to increase existing business and grow new markets for all our drilling technology and systems for measuring the earths formations as we drill them.
I have certainly enjoyed the variety of jobs I've done and could never have envisaged what was possible from just an interest in science. For me the fun has been the application of what I learned at school and to build on that knowledge in business.