Anna Leslie

Programme: MEarthSci

Graduated: 2002


"I worked for a mudlogging company on exploration rigs in the North Sea for 5 years; I was involved in analysing drilled cuttings and producing formation logs, and later monitoring drilling parameters for signs of kicks or abnormalities. With further training I became a pore pressure engineer, predicting formation pressures. This gave me the best grounding for my current job as a Managed Pressure Drilling (MPD) Supervisor/Engineer.

"As an MPD Supervisor/Engineer I normally spend 3 weeks on a rig at a time. My responsibilities involve constant monitoring and calculating of the wellbore pressure profile on HPHT (high pressure, high temperature) wells, made possible via the use of an RCD (rotating control device), and an automated choke manifold forming a closed-loop circulating system. I use a control system to manipulate the surface pressure, thereby mitigating drilling hazards and NPT (non-productive time) that occur when drilling through narrow pore-pressure and fracture-gradient windows and unstable formations. Our equipment involves a lot of heavy pipework and sensors which we have to rig up and down on each well.

"I love the fact that my job is so varied, we work on a variety of rigs with different people. Each well we drill is unique and has its own set of challenges, but that’s the reason why our equipment and team are there, to overcome these challenges. It’s slightly daunting to have so much control over a multi-million £ well, but job satisfaction can be very high when we safely aid the client drilling to the end of their wells, sometimes several weeks ahead of schedule. The time off is a big bonus for us, I work 3 weeks on the rig, and generally get 3 weeks off. Rig life is interesting and nowhere near as hard as you might think. Not many people can say they commute to work via helicopter!

"Compared to a lot of courses, the Geology department was always very sociable. Having so many practical sessions as well as lectures helped everyone get to know each other. The field trips, even the rainy ones, where always great fun as well! I’m still in touch with many friends from my course, even 10yrs after leaving university. As always some courses were more interesting than others, I loved Palaeontology and Planetary Geology.

"Studying all the thin sections definitely helped me while mudlogging, it meant I was already used to describing and evaluating what I saw. Sequence stratigraphy has helped me in the understanding of reservoirs, what mechanics may have been involved in their development and growth. We spend a lot of time looking at seismic survey data and correlating logs.

"The MEarthSci course is ideal for students who haven’t quite chosen in which direction they want their job path to take. It gives a very good grounding for a variety of jobs, but start thinking about where you want to end up while you’re at university; you have the free careers centre just at hand to offer you endless advice. In your 4th yr you can pick an outside subject, I picked Spanish and so glad I did. Lastly, I highly recommend taking a gap year between university and a career! It gave my brain a break and gave me some amazing memories to treasure."

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