Raised by Jamaican parents on the East Coast, Danielle Martin never imagined she would end up in energy.
Her family was more accustomed to careers in medicine and law, not oil and gas. And never, ever in Oklahoma.
“Oil and gas definitely wasn’t on my radar when I was going to undergrad,” she says of earning her Bachelor’s of Arts degree at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. “To be honest, Oklahoma wasn’t either.”
CHANGE OF PLANS
But a friend steered her toward Oklahoma State University’s Boone Pickens School of Geology, where she earned a Master’s Degree in geology. During her studies, she did an internship with WPX and was hired on full-time in 2016 as a geoscientist.
Now, Martin says, she can’t imagine doing anything else.
“I think it’s exciting – to know that you’re providing energy to the world,” the 25-year-old hailing from New Jersey says. “Oil and gas is used in so many sectors.”
Lots of people – herself included – have at times had an unfavorable impression of the industry, she says, but being on the “inside” changed her perspective. “It heats your home and raises the quality of life for people everywhere.”
Because of the size of the company and the nimbler nature of WPX, Martin has a broader role as a geoscientist that gives her more opportunities than she might find at larger companies with more complex org structures or specialized jobs.
DOMINOES AND DRILLING
She tracks oil wells from the concept and planning stages to the actual drilling of the well, working with reservoir engineers to discover which geologic intervals they want to target.
Next, she estimates the tops of formations in the subsurface and feeds the findings back to drilling engineers.
“It’s all about finding the best rock. We think about what’s actually drillable now based on economics and spacing, as well as future wells that will be drilled in the same formation,” she explains.
Martin and her colleagues support WPX’s development in the Permian’s Delaware Basin, analyzing stacked layers of rock that have been producing since the 1920s. Martin already is planning wells that will be drilled in 2019.
“Overall, the ideal role of a geoscientist is to knock down the first domino in the development process, which is to target where we drill the wells,” she says.
That’s no small endeavor for someone who didn’t anticipate ever going into oil and gas to start with.
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF GEOSCIENCE
“To know I have to give specific data to our engineers that impacts a multi-million-dollar process, I want to triple check everything. Sometimes I feel like I’m even checking it in my sleep. There’s a lot at stake.
“Our goal is to maximize what we see in the Permian’s stacked pay.”