Rishi Dorai (2011-2012)

MSc Petroleum Geoscience, Imperial College London

Rishi DoraiMy name is Rishi Dorai and I had the privilege of doing my MSc at Imperial College in the 2011/12 academic year, following completion of my BSc in Petroleum Geology at Royal Holloway, University of London.

longside my studies and prior to starting my Masters, I managed to get myself a few exposures to industry along the way, dating back to a period with BG Group in Cairo during my A Levels. I then spent almost three years alongside my undergraduate studies working part time with Petrenel, a petroleum consultancy based in Ascot.

I was very fortunate to have a received scholarship for the MSc programme here at Imperial, sponsored by Shell. I completed my MSc in September 2012 and have since joined the BP graduate programme, working as a Geologist.

My current rotation, based in Sunbury in the United Kingdom, involves working on the world’s second largest oilfield by production – the supergiant Rumaila field in Iraq. It is a truly impressive field consisting of several world-class clastic and carbonate reservoirs, together producing in excess of the total daily production of the entire UK and Norwegian North Sea. My present role primarily revolves around the areas of high resolution reservoir modelling and GDE mapping, of the Upper Shale reservoir as well as an oversight of the Rumaila Image Log project.

The MSc programme in Petroleum Geoscience represents the ultimate destination for graduate geologists, prior to embarking upon a career in the oil and gas industry. As a specially tailored course, it offers a seamless transition between the foundations set by an undergraduate degree and the demanding, fiercely competitive and highly technical nature of professional employment.

Within the United Kingdom, there are arguably up to four well-reputed MSc Petroleum Geoscience programmes on offer to the graduates of today. However, the programme offered by Imperial College London arguably carries with it the strongest reputation and prestige of them all.

To every prospective applicant, Imperial College is a world leading institution with an unparalleled standing in several fields and disciplines. The Earth Science and Engineering department at the college boasts close ties to industry, participates regularly at the forefront of scientific research and is supported by academic staff who lead their respective fields of research. All of these factors combine to great effect in the formation of the MSc Petroleum Geoscience course.

The programme is a bespoke and constantly evolving creation, formed through close alliance and consultation with industry. This alliance yields several benefits ranging from sponsorship of scholarships, impact on the topics and content explored during the year, as well as the manner in which it is delivered to students. A large proportion of the formal teaching utilises the aid of guest lecturers from industry.

During the 2011/12 academic year, guest lecturers included senior professionals from BP, Shell, ExxonMobil, BG Group, RPS Energy, IKON Geoscience and Schlumberger. The diversity in teaching styles and content adds immense value whilst also bringing variety and regular opportunities to network with potential future employers.

The best asset of the MSc Petroleum Geoscience course at Imperial College is its parallel running alongside similar programmes in Petroleum Engineering and Petroleum Geophysics. It is this distinction that keeps it considerably more appealing to prospective graduates. There is a common misconception that geologists only do geology. The beauty of the petroleum business is its linking of several technical disciplines in order to achieve a common purpose. The earlier that graduates are able to learn and appreciate this, the greater the value of what they take away from the course.

By running these three programmes in parallel, students are offered a fantastic platform for cross discipline interaction, learning and development. There are a number of shared lectures and group projects during the year which encourage and stimulate this effectively. The Wytch Farm project culminates the first term and is a great example of such an experience.

As a field development project, it brings together a small group of geoscientists, geophysicists and engineers in a manner identical to how such a task would be approached by any company working on a similar asset. These three weeks are potentially the most intensive pa rt of the year, however perhaps the most beneficial component of an Imperial College graduate’s portfolio of experiences.

Course content follows the entire scope of the upstream petroleum workflow from exploration to production. This is delivered to great effect by the passionate and experienced blend of academic and external lecturers. Consisting of several seasoned professionals, the staff within the department are outstanding teachers and mentors, engaging with students both in the classroom and in the field. They share a wealth of experience and knowledge in a manner that exudes enthusiasm and a love for what they do. All staff, both internal and external, are approachable and dependable allies during and beyond a student’s year at the college.

Beyond formal learning and group projects, the MSc experience is further enhanced by a number of spectacular fieldtrips. Fieldwork is a critical area of learning and development for every geologist. During the year at Imperial College, MSc students are provided with opportunities to witness field examples of a wide range of geological scenarios and areas covered by the formal teaching.

The year culminates with a three month independent project. This period provides students with an opportunity to draw on their experiences during the year and apply it on a project, most often in conjunction with an oil company. My MSc project, undertaken with BP, consisted of a geologically constrained volumetric assessment of a secondary reservoir of the Rumaila field in Iraq. It is perhaps in these three months that students find themselves develop the most, having gained the confidence that they have been armed with a tremendous arsenal of capability earlier during the year.

On the whole and from every angle, the Imperial College MSc in Petroleum Geoscience is a fantastic programme. It is the most comprehensive and intensive period of learning that any geologist is likely to experience in their career. It is a character building journey along which you will build lifelong friendships. You will end your year here, ready to start your career in confidence and able to get on with a job from day one.

The success of the programme is underpinned by its support from industry and the diversity in its teaching. Most of all however, this success is sustained by its constant evolution to ensure it remains the flagship programme on offer to the graduates of tomorrow.


Gemma Jones (2010-2011)

MSc Petroleum Geoscience, Imperial College London

After finishing my undergraduate degree at Cambridge University I knew I wanted a career in Geology, but I was unsure on what area of Geology I wanted to work in. I arranged a meeting with the Deputy Chief Geologist at BG Group through a personal contact, to discuss what was involved in being a Petroleum Geologist in the Energy Industry. I was really excited by what I heard, he likened working in Petroleum Geology to detective work; using a variety of data to work out where to drill for oil and gas and how to maximise production.

I applied to the Petroleum Geoscience course and was offered a position, fully funded by BP. The course was everything I expected it to be and more. The people, both the teaching staff and my fellow students, were enthusiastic and highly driven and the course was challenging but relevant and practical.

During the first term we were regularly taught alongside, the Petroleum Geophysicists and the Petroleum Engineers which gave me an appreciation of the work they do. Working alongside each other during the Wytch Farm project at the end of the first term really helped us all understand how our disciplines complimented each other and it was a great way to experience the rewards, and problems, that arise from working in multi-disciplined teams.

The course covers all types of Geology relevant to the Petroleum Industry, taught by experts in each field, and ranging from broad topics like Production and Development Geology to more specialist skills such as Petrophysical Log Interpretation and Seismic Analysis.

I loved the fact that the course is taught in a varied and interesting way, with regular fieldtrips to outcrops used on industry-lead trips; from short trips to locations such as Kilve for the fabulous structural exposures to the three-week long trip exploring the world-renowned outcrops in Utah and West Texas. I had a wonderful time on these fieldtrips and also the three months I spent working with an oil company in Jakarta, Indonesia for my final project, where I was able to apply the skills which I had learnt to solve real problems.

I was inspired to apply for a PhD after attending the AAPG (American Association of Petroleum Geologists) conference in New Orleans during the MSc Petroleum Geosciences fieldtrip to America. My PhD is supervised by Dr. Lidia Lonergan, the supervisor of my MSc project, and uses a high-resolution 3D seismic dataset to look at the interaction between deepwater sedimentary systems and salt tectonics, offshore Angola. It is partly sponsored by BP, which has given me the opportunity to work in their offices at Sunbury.

This has been a fantastic experience and one which I have been able to understand, and make the most of, because of the excellent and thorough teaching I received on the MSc Petroleum Geoscience course. I have recently been offered a job with BP and will start on their Graduate Programme later this year. I am certain that none of this would have been possible without the exceptional teaching and enthusiasm imparted to me during my time on the MSc Petroleum Geoscience course at Imperial College.