The Oil Patch in Calgary is DOOMED!!! How do I know? Have I consulted financial and industry experts? No. Tracked global consumption patterns? No. Consulted local psychics? No. Instead, I've looked at the most reliable indicator in the last 15 years of the state of the industry... Graduating class size in Geophysics at the University of Calgary. We all know the Oil Patch is cyclical and the last 3 to 4 years have been the healthiest for the industry since at least the crash of 1985. Student enrollment in Geophysics follows this same cycle, however graduation corresponds to this cycle 4 years later. The next two years will see the largest graduating classes since 1988 and if previous patterns repeat themselves our industry will cut spending and hiring, leaving too many future Geophysicists wondering whether to pursue a masters or sell Real Estate.
How bad does our Oil and Gas industry need these young wide-eyed Geophysicists? A look at the Demographic Profile of our CSEG makes it painfully obvious. Only 11% of CSEG members are aged 34 or less. Eleven Percent!!! This means 8 out of every 9 CSEG members are 35 years of age or older. Does this justify the need to hire young graduates? Last year a record number of wells were drilled with estimates as high as 16,300 expected for 1998. Compare this with 1992 when only 4906 wells were drilled. Has our workforce grown significantly? No. Could it expand through hiring of new graduates? Yes.
This is a very different Oil Patch we work in, even when compared to 10 years ago. Every Junior and Mid-size Oil Company in town has enjoyed plucking young, aggressive, and fully trained personnel from the Majors . As the availability of willing to move talent dried up within these Major Oil Companies, Juniors began stripping talent from one another. The Major companies, in an effort to compete, also began trying to hire the "experienced Geophysicist" and many slowed their graduate hiring while decimating inhouse training programs through which many of us have gained invaluable experience in all Geophysical branches.
In today's Oil Patch, it's the responsibility of every sized Oil company in town to hire and train new Geophysicists. We can no longer depend on the Majors to provide this " free of charge" service nor will they. Although that new grad you just hired may not bring with them five "old" plays in their pocket, they may bring you one "new" playa couple of years down the road. Our industry is presently operating with too few Geophysicists and they can only come from one place. The Majors won't hire as many of these new grads as you'd think so it's up to the Juniors. If they say, "We're just a small Oil Company"; "We don't have the resources available to us that a major Oil company has for training", Bull! Do you shoot seismic? Send your new hire in to the field to observe acquisition, surveying, and drilling. Do you process or re-process seismic? Send them to the processing shop to see first hand what steps data goes through and the potential pit falls facing the interpreter. Do you interpret? Now you become the hands on teacher for your new Junior Geophysicist.
Let's break the "CYCLE OF DOOM" and hire these new graduates which someday will use their new ideas and techniques to find new Oil and Gas pools so we can say "We knew it was there all along but previously we couldn't convince management to drill". So we can safely say "The Oil Patch in Calgary is NOT doomed!"