||Karen Guldbæk Schmidt|
||PhD, MSc Geophysics-Physics, University of Copenhagen|
||Well Site Engineer, MITAS graduate|
||Petrophysicist in Petroleum Engineering Department, Dan Centre |
||Playing with my son. Sailing and fitness. Former elite volleyball player|
You were well on your way to a career in research, but switched to being a Well Site Engineer as part of MITAS in 2006. What prompted the change?
When my institute moved to Stockholm, it was time for a change, but I would have switched anyway. I needed a job where there was more teamwork and a better balance between theory and practice, and I found that with the job as a Well Site Engineer. It was really just an extra plus that the job also offered other benefits, not least of which was a better salary.
As a geophysicist, I did research in climate and planetary physics. My PhD dealt with the water cycle on Mars and I even went to Antarctica to drill for ice cores. While there, I packed 6000 individual ice samples! The experience was good preparation for offshore duty. I haven’t regretted switching careers for one second.
What was it like - a Physicist working as an Engineer?
Working as a Well Site Engineer is probably the best way to learn how to drill wells. You’re at the front line, getting your hands dirty right there where the drill is being managed and the well is being created. It is very motivating. No matter what you do later in your career, it is an excellent background to have.
I thoroughly enjoyed the MITAS programme. It is interesting and challenging. Having previous experience was an advantage in my case, as I was better at focusing on what’s important. The technical aspects that I did not know, I was able to learn on the job or on courses.
What are your most memorable experiences?
After my initial periods of offshore duty, I had four trainees working with me on the rigs. Once, following a long shift, I was sitting with one of them in the “dog house” (i.e. the control room for the drillers) – and suddenly discovered that she was sound asleep in her chair. There is a constant barrage of information that can be quite overwhelming, but you eventually grow accustomed to navigating it.
I think the MITAS and Well Site Engineer courses are of a very high level and extremely interesting. I attended technical courses on topics like directional drilling, completion, well engineering, geology – and even mud!
However, I think the MITAS courses were the best. The courses were of extremely high quality in fields which were quite new to me, such as strategy and project management. We travelled to Boston, for example, to learn more about innovation, where we had MIT professors as coaches while developing our own ideas. We established work discipline together and forged some very strong bonds. At the end, we presented our assignments to the management of the various business units. It’s nice to know that management takes our work seriously.
What is your current work?
I am working as a petrophysicist in the Petroleum Engineering Department, where I am working together with the reservoir engineers and geologists. My duties include steering the drilling of new wells and collecting data. I also convert raw data into interpreted values so we can determine the free water level, calculate the size of gas and oil reserves, and estimate how much of them we can retrieve. This is more specialised work than I was doing as a Well Site Engineer and I get to dive into the more physical aspects of working with the North Sea oil and gas fields.
I work with many different people in Maersk Oil with widely differing educational backgrounds and nationalities – all very skilled and committed. These are the things that make for an exciting workplace.