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How to Get Entry Into Directional Drilling Profession?

How to Get Entry Into Directional Drilling Profession?


One of the biggest breakthroughs in how we get the fuel for our vehicles and homes is the science of directional drilling of oil and gas wells. The job of a directional driller is one of the most highly compensated positions in the petroleum exploration industry. Directional drilling has helped discover vast new deposits of oil and natural gas throughout the globe. The technology is for the first time in years reversing the decline in domestic oil production. For this reason, the number of jobs in directional drilling of oil wells is increasing.

Directional drillers earn good money, some of the best in the oilfield, for being in charge of drilling an oil well sideways or horizontally. It can be a demanding high pressure job. To be a directional driller one must be very mechanically inclined, have a good amount oilfield experience, be good at mathematics and be willing to travel and spend much as fifty weeks a year away from home when starting out.


The people who most often become highly paid directional drillers have usually arrived at the position by one of two paths. Some have worked their way up the ladder from roughneck and regular oil rig driller and then applied for the job of directional driller with a service company, such as Sperry Sun, that specializes in that type of work. To be hired they must have years of experience drilling oil wells in different types of rock formations, working on different types of rigs, etc., as well as possess excellent math and problem solving skills.
Others who become directional drillers may have spent several years working in the field of MWD-LWD (Measure and Logging While Drilling), which is the electronic technology used to guide directional drillers as they drill oil and gas wells horizontally through rock stratas. Those working in LWD and MWD may have an engineering degree from a university or technical school degree.

Required Educational Background

There are several ways to enter the vast oil and gas field. If you browse through the profiles of different oil field workers, you’ll observe that some are just high school pass outs while some are masters’ degree holder too. There are just few companies which recruit freshers directly as a directional drilling personnel and maximum of those are PSU’s. Most of the reputed companies hire fresh graduates as a MWD operator and after few years (may be about 4 to 5 years) they are provided DD training and shifted to core directional drilling department as a DD.

If you are fresh Engineering Graduate with Electronics, IT, Computer, Petroleum as major, you can directly enter the MWD department and later get promoted to Directional drilling section.

If you are fresh graduate with Petroleum or Mechanical major, you can enter via drilling and then switching to MWD since all MWD service providers do not recruit mechanical engineers for MWD field operation.

Education background preferred for MWD operator position:
Bachelors in Electronics / Electronics & Communication
Bachelors in Computer / IT
Bachelors in Petroleum

If you want to get a job as a directional driller, make sure you take courses in math and science in high school and college. Trigonometry is an essential part of the job and though many of the calculations used to determine how to build or maintain angle in the well can be done on programmable scientific calculators, understanding the “why” behind the math is essential to the job. In addition, most companies require that directional drillers attend a multi – day class and pass a final exam before being promoted any further than trainee.

Job Environment

Your work will either be on a land rig or on an offshore rig. There is no such thing as a typical “work day” for a directional driller. One of the most critical times on the job is when the directional driller is diverting the well from vertical to horizontal. A bad calculation on error in judgment when deciding when and how to build angle can mean the difference between having to abandon days of work, cement the newly drilled section of the well, etc. During these times both the day and night directional drillers may be up for many hours without sleep. During the training phase of the job a trainee may work part of the night with one driller and part of the day with the other full time D.D. Since well trained “hands” are in high demand, they may go straight from one job to the other, with days in between going home. To say that the job can be stressful is an understatement.


Salaries for directional drillers with several years of experience may be well over $200,000 a year but in return they are required to go to jobs anywhere, at anytime the company orders them to do so.


• CAREER IN DIRECTIONAL DRILLING, Directional Drilling Technology Blog.

• How to Get A Job As A Directional Driller In The Oilfield, eHow Contributor

The Middle East: Employment Future and Challenges

10 September, 2013 Career 4 comments
The Middle East: Employment Future and Challenges

Oil and gas are the world’s most important energy sources. They produce power for our factories and our homes, run our cars, ships, aircraft and railways, and provide us with plastics and other synthetic materials that, in the modern world, we often take for granted.

With demand for oil and gas increasing, and greater care being taken of our natural resources, the oil industry faces a challenging and exciting future – one that is going to test its ingenuity and expertise to the full. The oil industry offers a variety of job opportunities. Many are office based, but some still demand working in difficult conditions.

The oil and gas industry creates widespread impact throughout all sectors of an economy. The economic impact includes direct employment, labor income, and “value add” benefits based on the investments in the sector. These benefits are called multipliers. Indirect impact takes into account the economic activity created through the supply chain serving the oil and gas industry while induced impact is based on household spending. The last element creates additional employment and related economic activity.

In the recent past, Middle Eastern national oil companies (NOCs) have had to compete with other regions of the world for the best available human resources from their partners, the International Oil Companies (IOCs). Until about five years ago, this competition was relatively unsuccessful, as IOCs deployed their best exploration and production talent instead to more technically challenging areas of the world such as the deepwater Gulf of Mexico, Brazil, West Africa, the Caspian and emerging areas of Asia- Pacific. The effect of using this talent elsewhere was that Middle Eastern NOCs were not exposed to the best in class experience in science, engineering and technology that the IOCs had to offer. In the past five years however, things have started to change, as the Middle East re-emerges as a priority investment area for those IOCs attracted by the size, availability and stability of the resources available in the region.

According to Derek Massie, former SVP HR at deepwater drilling company, Seadrill: “Labour supply and demand is not balanced on a global scale. In the Middle East, 86% of workers are imported”.

What can be done to ease the talent shortage in the Middle Eastern energy and utilities sector?

There are a series of measures which, when taken together, can provide solutions for the short-, medium- and longterm. Before an increase in the existing skill base is even contemplated, quick wins can be realized simply by better managing the existing pool of talent within an NOC or NEWC organization or within the industry as a whole. Apart from the benefits which a well thought out and executed organizational redesign can bring, the positive contribution of a professional HR function, fully integrated with the business operating units which it serves, is crucial for developing coherent and proactive talent strategies to enable them to compete in a global resourcing market. A separately identified HR function is relatively unknown to the Middle East, where HR activities are sometimes regarded as part of an overall administrative function, tasked with reactive fire-fighting rather than constructive, preventative action. A professional HR function, empowered by senior management and staffed by well-trained individuals, can address a whole range of issues such as recruitment, training, career progression, remuneration, and retention of an organization’s most valuable assets.

Sponsorship of continuing education, also a key element in staff development and retention, is gradually becoming a core strategy adopted by the NOCs. Last year Saudi Aramco paid for the education of 1,922 graduate and undergraduate Saudi students, including 1,138 in North America, 439 in Europe, and 217 in Saudi Arabia itself. Saudi Aramco also supports a College Preparatory Program that gives Saudi secondary-school graduates the skills they need to succeed in international universities. The company runs the equivalent of community colleges that give thousands of Saudi young people the technical skills they need for employment, and it has other extensive collaborations with Saudi and international higher education institutions. In 2009, Saudi Aramco set up a “university relations” division to manage such partnerships. As far as closing the mid-career skills gap in energy and utilities is concerned, other quick wins can include identifying and fast tracking young employees according to their technical and business development skills, as well as incentivizing the delayed retirement of long-serving employees. In the long term, however, only a sustained program of attracting school students at an early age into science, engineering and technology education and careers, sponsored by the NOCs and IOCs working together, will solve the problem which they helped to create 15 years ago.


1. Deloitte, Midle East Energy and Resources.

2. Energy Zone, Careers in Oil and Gas Industry.

3. Schlumberger, The Gulf Challenges.

An Interview with Mr Maciej Librant – Petroleum Geo-Services

An Interview with Mr Maciej Librant – Petroleum Geo-Services

The first guest of YoungPetro’s Ask Me Anything column is Mr Maciej Librant, Petroleum Geo-Services geophysicist. Together with AGH UST Students Association “Geophone” we were honoured to organise a meeting with this land and marine seismic specialist.

YoungPetro: Tell us about your first steps in the industry.

Maciej Librant: Just after my postgraduate geophysics studies at the AGH UST I was working for three years mainly in the Sahara Desert engaging in land seismic. I was responsible for correct and accurate work of data collecting equipment. Then I got an offer from CGGVeritas to join them. The whole recruitment procedure was undoubtedly curious. It covered a conversation with psychologist in Geneva and two meetings in Paris. Eventually, I rejected it due to conditions of this proposition. I wanted to be at home more frequently. Hopefully, I encountered a headhunter from PGS, passed the interview in Krakow, signed a contract and that’s how I’ve been practising an extremely interesting job for 5 years.

YP: What’s PGS and what are your main responsibilities?

M.L.: Petroleum Geo-Services is a multinational company headquartered in Norway which operates marine seismic in vast regions of the World. It holds both offshore and onshore data processing facilities.
We work in 12/12 system (twelve hours of work and twelve of rest and recreation which can be spent variously – at the gym and other onboard leisure, but mainly on sleep). Currently I swim in the North Sea on PGS Apollo vessel that has in its equipment maximum of 12 streamers. We take seismic images using air guns and dynamite as a source of seismic waves. Waves after reflection under the seabed are received by hydrophones which are part of 10 cables of total 8 kilometres long (approximately 5 miles). The next step is seismic record check based on special software able to display and filter seismic data in many ways.  My other responsibilities are usually linked with IT problems. I have to cope with overloading of the system. Generally I have to admit that PGS is a very serious business that takes care of its employees and guarantees support in need.

YP: What are your favourite activities onboard?

M.L.: From time to time when weather is fine we have motorboats training. They’re not compulsory but clearly give  me a lot of fun, provide steering course on different propulsion boats, and give me breath from daily routine.

YP: Summer’s issue topic is women in the industry. How does a female geophysicist meet such difficult and extreme conditions onshore and offshore?

M.L.: Very well! Actually I have to admit that women are often better than men, despite the conditions. For 2 years I had a female boss – an extraordinarily talented specialist. There was also a situation when my coworker got pregnant, therefore she could no more work on ship. Although she was so good at her job she got an offer from PGS to work remotely via Internet. At her home whole initial data processing system was installed. That’s how she could combine maternity with work. In our profession gender doesn’t matter.

YP: What incredible stories could you tell us?

M.L.: The most eeriness thing on the ship was dynamite. Naturally it’s very unstable but effective, that’s why it is still in use in land seismic. But when air guns didn’t exist or were uncommon it was successfully applied offshore. Rarely  uncontrolled explosions happened onboard. But as far as I know no one got hurt also property losses weren’t so enormous. The most unfortunate situation I have experienced was the entanglement of measurement cables. The whole crew with no exceptions for 12 hours a day and one and a half week had dragged partially cables out of the sea and unknotted them. It was terribly tedious and harsh work. Working on a seismic ship demands responsibility. If we make a mistake, the whole measurement might go wrong and that’s a loss for the company. The time of a usual trip is 5 weeks on a ship. Weather conditions do not pamper you – storms, unfavorable currents. And if little marine creatures called barnacles would pin to cables and measurement apparatus you have to remove them manually at sea. It’s bound with cessation of normal operations. The job necessitate fortitude, but most of all it’s incredibly fascinating.

YP: Do you have any advice for future geophysicists you could share?

M.L.: First of all if you have some problems with English – do not hesitate. It’s an international language and language of the industry. Its knowledge is equally important as basics of the mathematics in regular life. Being operational in Linux at least at the same level as in Windows system is superbly useful. All of computing programmes are open-source, thus it would help you resolve IT problems. Never forget to sleep and eat properly. It gives you essential power for the next effective day. Overworking is not an option because it lowers your abilities. You have to count in working more than 6 months a year remote from your home. It’s good to be a positive man to overcome such separation.

YP: Would you choose the same path of career if you could?

M.L.: It’s philosophical question and the answer depends on perspective you look at every pros and cons of such a job. As a confirmed and subjective optimist I can frankly say that this career gave me a lot of adventures some might read about only in books. I would remember the service for my whole life.

YP: At the end maybe could you partake some trivia about Petroleum Geo-Services?

M.L.: PGS has by this time unbeaten the Guinness World Record in the biggest object moving on the Earth category. It’s our vessel with a dozen or so eight kilometers cables. Crazy, isn’t it? Just as crazy as people who work here. Enthusiastic companionship with whom you will never be bored.

YP: Thank you very much for this conversation. I hope you unveiled to our readers some mysteries of your work. Comment and share it!

MWD Engineer

MWD Engineer

MWD is a shortcut from Measurement While Drilling. It is quite modern measurement technique, which can be launched without stopping drilling unit work, what saves time and finally – money. Man responsible for measurements and equipment is MWD – Engineer, of whom the article is.

So what criteria you must meet to get this work?

First of all – education

Easiest way is obviously is majoring in petroleum or drilling engineering but can also finish the geology or some fuel and energetic faculty. Some companies require work experience in the oil industry in addition to or sometimes instead of diploma. However, work in the oil industry begins immediately after graduation with a long, arduous training that brings many benefits, theoretical and practical knowledge. Of course, initially starting as a field engineer generally and gradually apprenticed to the position of MWD Engineer, because you must know at least the basics when it comes to engineering principles and measurement while drilling. There is nothing surprising, considering that you will be entrusted with worth tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars measuring equipment.

Next stage – language

Do not think that your national language will matter anywhere outside your country. Oh no! Without English you can basically forget about such work. It is one simple reason for that. Most of the time you will spend abroad and even if not, almost all business is dealt in English. But even if you are native speaker of English you should start to learn foreign languages. German is very useful, especially in north-west Europe, Russian in middle-east region or Spanish and Portuguese in Latin America which presently is world richest area in crude oil. Unfortunately (or maybe oppositely?) employer likes to hire widely and highly educated employee, so that he will probably send you to the place, in which none of known to you languages will give you an opportunity to fluent communication. You will have to learn a new one. Hurray! It is a simple math. Language skills certificates primarily technical and business, depends from company position are very valuable additives to your resume.

Another vital skill is fluent computer dexterity, but nowadays that should not be a problem. Almost everyone got bigger or smaller contact with computer. It turns out to be very helpful for you in learning the handling quite complex and extensive software for receiving, analyzing the readings from the downhole equipment. You have to remember that presently every device is supported by computer, so if you are wet behind the ears when it comes to computers, better start to train.

Self-reliance is essential in this profession. And I do not mean selfishness at work but the ability to cope with problems, solving them. As you know, not always have someone to help and sometimes befall you different problems or ambiguous readings. Then you better know what to do, whom to report, how to interpret and whether it is desirable to further drilling and that sort of thing. Unfortunately without your own accurate analysis, is rather hard to keep you on such a responsible position.

Stress resistance. Any job in drilling industry is full of stress while drilling, tough decisions, where each of them may become, financially, very expensive mistake. So you always have to think soberly, keep cool and not act impulsively. You better consider longer or twice (but still very fast) decisions taken rather than lead to a situation that you would better prefer not to think about. Now you should definitely learn to master stress, which can often lead you to the inner panic, resulting improper decisions.

The employee of any drilling rig have to be independent, it also applies to the MWD Engineer. Remember however hierarchy in the company, the platform or rig. You work there in a group and thus, you are responsible for others. Please remember that you can consult decisions with more experienced workers or bosses, however, keep in mind the above mentioned independence. You cannot harass your superior with every small uncertainty.

What are the duties MWD Engineer?

The responsibility of the directional service engineer should be directional testing, assembly, installation of the collar and the provision of detection devices that is in the BHA.

Day labor
MWD Engineer – work in the directional service requires 100% of flexibility, because it is linked with frequent travel to the residence on the rigs where the customer orders the service or is it just DWD (Directional While Drilling) sensors that are additional to the family of FE (Formation Evaluation): Resistivity, Gamma, PWD (Pressure While Drilling) ect. As an engineer after reaching the rig you have to do so. Rig Up – run the computers (sometimes everything from scratch: monitors of boxes, cables, additional equipment that allows connecting computers with MWD-system), there are always two computers (main and back up). Then you start the submission and testing MWD – sensors, and other parts depending on the system. Two popular data transmission systems currently used by the services Positive Pulse is where the data are transmitted by the drilling fluid – pulser sends a pulse sequence that causes the change of pressure in the pipe drilling muds – and between the pumps and top drive (or kelly), you mount Tranducers, that enable recive pressures changes. Transucers are connected to the computer, which has the ability to detect external signals, and thus obtained the information from the bottom during drilling. The downside of such a system is that, in order to have the info you need to pump the mud.
The second system is ElectroMagnetic EM, which transmits electrical signals via the rock – in this system are used Antenna (two) one to send data, the other for the reception – plus is that, you do not have to pump muds (another way of transmission) and frequency, even a dozen times faster comparing to Positive Pulse.
After assembly and tested in the MVD installs sinker (They are most often non-magnetic weights special NMDC – Drill Collar NonMagnetic) and venture into wire rig.
Start of drilling is beginning of detection. In directional drilling, measurements of the drill bit location are getting every connection that is often at about 20 meters (two pipes the so-called stand (in Polish belt.) Sending information to the MWD in order to sent us the measurement (so-called Full Survey) is made by switching on and off pumps ( for Positive Pulse) or send downlink (to EM). In the directional measurement you get inclinations and azimuth, and depth of the type on which the measurement was made (depth survey).

Shift on the rig takes 12 hours. You work together with the DD (Directional Driller). The so-called Rig Crew DD is 2 and 2 MWD Engineers.

What’s after work and not only?
You live in a hotel near the rig, employer cares only about what you do during working hours (means, do you work efficiently), but when 12 hours of an interesting struggle end, do what you want. Visit places, there is a possibility you will be located in a privileged location, say, Malaysia or Norway. You can use earned money, spend it on parties, travel, brand-name stuff either… submitted to the socks, save for some worthy cause, which you plan to make after returning home permanently. But who, after such hard work put aside everything to your account and does not want to for example – swim a scooter or skydive? And if you have a family, you take them to an entertainment center, gourmet restaurant, wherever you want. Now you can afford it. The pay rates you can find in 2010 SPE Salary Survey and I think every young man who realizes the money is necessary for living will be satisfied. Your salary will be divided in two sections base pay and daily rate for every day you will spend on rig! In addition to twelve-hour work day you have an average of 15 days a month off (work in 2 : 2 mode) which gives near 180 free days a year and you are entitled to annual holiday. Are you considering what you will be doing at this time? Calmly, strike a happy medium. Rest from work, but also take care of your retirement, in the end the job ends someday and you will run out of such huge monthly money amount. Think about your own business, funds already have.