Petroleum geoscience is is undergoing major changes. The energy transition has resulted in many petroleum exploration and production companies refocusing on renewable energy and services companies diversifying into geothermal energy, mineral exploration, carbon capture and storage and environmental geosciences. As a consequence, many petroleum geoscientists are either losing their jobs, or having to reskill to survive.
The purpose of this course is to look at how petroleum geoscientists can realign their skills, as quickly and as efficiently as possible, which will benefit both the employers and the employees.
The good news is that petroleum geoscientists already have skills in critical thinking, researching, learning, systems thinking, problem-solving, scientific reasoning, geological analysis, project planning and management, data management and analysis, technical report writing and presentation, to name but a few. However, these skills are often not recognised for what they are, taken for granted and not promoted to prospective managers and employers.
The main thing that is missing from the petroleum geoscientists portfolio moving into a new domain is domain-specific knowledge. Learning therefore becomes the critical skill that we must hone and employ. However, although geoscientists have demonstrated they can learn, they don't always recognise that as a skill that can be improved with practice.
In this course we will start by taking stock of all the critical thinking skills that we already have, and look at ways in which they can be improved and promoted. Then we will focus on strategies for developing and demonstrating domain-specific knowledge in new subjects in the most effective way.
Leveraging Critical Thinking Skills for Petroleum Geoscientists in Transition
This first section of the course will set the scene for the course and establish the need to review our skills portfolios and define how we can upskill and diversify, so that we can adapt to the changes occurring as a consequence of the energy transition.
In the first instance we need to define the transferable critical thinking and problem-solving skills that we already have. We need to better understand the nature of those skills so that we can practice and refine them, then ensure that we promote them.
Then we must consider how to accelerate our acquisition of the new domain-specific knowledge that we need to fill new roles in new sectors of the geoscience industry. How can we fast-track our learning and demonstrate our ability to solve new geoscience problems.
The Technical Report as a Plan and a Deliverable
Undertaking technical studies and writing technical reports is something we all do. In this chapter we are going to deconstruct the report structure so that we understand the purpose and the logic of each part of the study and technical report. With that deeper understanding of the logic of the technical report as a plan and a deliverable, we also have a framework within which to organise and define our critical thinking and reporting skills.
A Key Skill For Any Professional Geoscientist
Any technical study you undertake is a project, so you will need project management skills to complete it effectively, even if you are not the designated project manager. Therefore you need to learn what project management is, so that you can apply it and prove to others that you have those skills.
In this module you will learn the fundamentals of project management and how to create your own project plans using free project management software used by the professionals.
Researching and Learning: From Background Research to Exploring New Subjects
Research and learning are fundamental skills for any scientist, but strangely we are seldom explicitly taught research and learning skills. We are just told to do the research and learn!
We need to maximise our research skills in order to find out and learn about the fundamental science and the previous work that has been undertaken on our chosen subject.
It is important that you can demonstrate these skills, because your next job is bound to require you to research and acquire new knowledge and learn new skills quickly!
Understanding the Origins and Limitations of the Data
The whole scientific process relies on the generation and evaluation of data. It is imperative that we understand the limitations and uncertainties of the analytical methods we employ and the associated errors. This is a key skill that future employers will want from their geoscientists. What is the difference between subjective and objective uncertainties, and systematic and random data errors? All these need to be evaluated and documented.
It is also imperative that we learn how to collate and manage data effectively. One of the biggest causes of project failure is the failure to allow enough time to manage data adequately.
The Core Skill of the Scientist
However, like so many other fundamental skills, scientific reasoning is not typically explicitly taught, unless you study the philosophy of science at some point.
In this module we will learn all about the fundamentals of scientific reasoning and the various logical approaches we should adopt to analyse our data and draw conclusions. In particular we will focus on the nature of cognitive biases and strategies we must adopt to avoid these biases.
Illustration is the Key to Communication
Illustrations are the best way to communicate our science. Scientists must be able to use the logic of scientific reasoning, but they must also be able to illustrate their logical conclusions. Increasingly, the ability to illustrate your science is becoming an important skill.
In this module you will learn some of the fundamental principles of illustration and visualisation and some of the practical skills required to create illustrations in MS Power Point and Inkscape (a free Adobe Illustrator alternative).
Pulling it all Together - The Final Outcomes and Implications
The culmination of all of our hard work is creation of coherent and engaging conclusions. This is a key skill.
These should mirror the stated aims and objectives of the study, and not be rushed as the deadline rapidly approaches. In this chapter we will look at some of the dos and don'ts of how to present conclusions. It is just as important to identify any objectives that could not be addressed and any outstanding questions that we may have. It is most likely that the study has also revealed new questions and issues to be resolved by further study. These observations are also critical, as they provide the continuity for scientific research and potentially the next project if you are in the consultancy business!
What do We Need to Learn and How do We Learn It?
In this final chapter we will review some of the options available to petroleum geoscientists looking for a new direction in geoscience. Having summarised the options, we can then look at how we prioritise and accelerate our learning, gain experience and create a portfolio of case studies.
There are several options to gather data, recreate published work, practice applying new knowledge and skills. Self-directed, enquiry-based learning!
Lots of Useful Resources
Your will find a reference list to all articles referred to in the presentations (and more), plus links to the key software applications and resources referred to throughout the course.1 File