The Horizon Geology Development Program (HGDP) was pioneered by Horizon in 2010 and there is nothing like it anywhere else in the industry.
What exactly is Field Geology?
In the midst of the 2008 drilling boom, Horizon recognized that the cyclical nature of the oil/gas drilling industry often precluded talented young geologists from gaining field experience that would be invaluable to a career in exploration.
During its up cycles, the industry hired quickly in an attempt to keep up with a constantly expanding drilling program—geologists often began work with little or no field experience. The aggressive drilling programs implemented during these up cycles also allowed very little time for a exploration geologist to spend time at the rig site as wells were drilled. During the down cycles, the industry had no budget for extensive field training programs or rig site visits. Geologists that kept their job between cycles were typically overloaded with day-to-day tasks and had no time for field work. The result of these cyclical swings was a large number of exploration geologists with limited well-site experience, limited time and limited budget who therefore had to rely upon the mud logger for critical field geology information.
While this reliance was good for companies like Horizon, we unfortunately also recognized that mud logging was, to a large extent, a semi-professional service. The same industry cycles that precluded geologists from gaining field experience produced inexperienced and generally undereducated mud loggers. During up cycles, service companies hired under-qualified people to keep up with demand and during down cycles, experienced personnel left to find other employment as the jobs dried up when the rigs went down.
By late 2008, we knew that Horizon’s service was equal to or better than our competitors but we also knew the quality bar for mud logging in general was not very high. We believed that the information and service provided by the entire mud logging industry needed to be substantially upgraded in order to provide exploration geologists in the office with the field geologic information they needed to perform their job well without spending extensive time at the rig site during drilling.
Horizon’s answer to this problem was to completely redefine itself as a provider of field geology—a professional service providing accurate, reliable geological information to the exploration geologist in the office. Rather than the semi-professional service that was known as mud logging, “field geology” was a completely new level of service defined by quality, technology and professionalism. Exploration geologists, regardless of their field experience, could rely upon Horizon’s “field geology” service to give them the critical geological information they needed in real-time, every day.
During 2009, we invested heavily in the infrastructure necessary to make the vision of a professional field geology firm a reality. We worked with customers to develop documented processes and standards for professional field geology. We developed software, tools and systems to deliver accurate, professional geological information. Finally, we developed an extensive training program designed to attract, educate and retain the talent necessary to provide a service that was truly professional.
As a key component of delivering professional field geology, we created the HGDP: a development program that employs recent geology graduates in field positions, allowing them to build their field geology skills and experience while at the same time significantly improving the accuracy and reliability of the geologic information that is the foundation of the products and services Horizon provides to its customers. By hiring and fielding degreed geologists, we enable much more sophisticated communication between the exploration geologist in the office and the service professional in the field.
But our focus on improvement was far more extensive that merely hiring candidates with better credentials. In addition to focusing on providing professional geological communication, the HGDP focuses on the participants’ professional development. As participants develop, we increase their responsibility and provide training in other areas, such as geo-steering and field supervision. Not only do they become first-class mud loggers and field geologists, they also position themselves for a long-term career path with Horizon—a dynamic, professional energy service company poised for significant national growth.
As participants near the end of their one-year program, they begin to target a career path. In addition to field geology positions at Horizon, they can choose a career path that includes field supervision, staff and management positions within Horizon. On the other hand, some participants may determine they are interested in a career with an exploration company, in which case we actively assist them with outplacement among our extensive network of customers.
Personal development under the HGDP
Compensation under the HGDP is designed to provide gradual increases as ability and performance improve and reward participants for specific achievements under the program.
The HGDP begins with a one-week intensive Training Phase in which geologists learn Horizon’s process, procedures and company culture. They learn about drilling, communication, quality, software and equipment—everything necessary to be a productive mud logger in Horizon’s field work force. It is a rigorous training program that builds the basic skills they need in the field and camaraderie with other program participants.
Following the Training Phase, participants go to the field as Loggers for approximately four months to put their training into practice. During this “Initial Field Phase” they not only gain experience in operating Horizon’s production and quality processes but begin to develop ideas for improving or expanding Horizon’s products, services and training.
Upon completion of the Initial Field Phase, participants return to the classroom for a one-week Interactive Phase of training, discussion and quality improvement. Each participant’s quality records for the Initial Field Phase are reviewed, along with any training/process improvement suggestions they developed in their time in the field. Participants also study advanced courses and begin to learn how various staff functions at Horizon work. The goal of this phase is to improve both the participant’s skills and the company’s ability to deliver.
Participants proceed to an Advanced Field Phase as Lead Loggers in which they continue to practice and improve their field skills as well as begin to mentor other Loggers in areas of geology, communication and quality. As part of this phase, participants also develop their own half-day specialized geology training course for other loggers based upon their specific logging experience. This four-month phase culminates with the presentation of the training course to management and other loggers.
The Final Phase begins with another week-long interactive session, this time with field supervisors and other Horizon staff. In addition to more training, participants chose an advanced training topic, such as leadership or geo-steering, for their specialization. Following this final training, participants complete the program by finishing a four-month Final Field Phase in which they put into practice all the skills they have learned in the program. Upon completion of the program, Field Geologists can continue their career with Horizon, where they can target field supervision, training or quality positions as they become available. They can alternatively choose to target a career with an exploration company, in which case Horizon will actively assist them with outplacement with Operators in the industry.
The HGDP is unique to Horizon and the industry. It is designed to provide geology graduates with the field experience that will open up multiple career paths both inside and outside of Horizon. It also helps Horizon and its customer realize the full potential of professional field geology.
In 2010 we have hired over 130 degreed geologists into the HGDP. Approximately 15% of the participants have a master's degree in a geo-science, 8% have multiple bachelor's degrees including at least one geo-science and the rest have a bachelors in a geo-science. If you are a degreed geologist, find out what it's like to help change an industry--submit your resume through monster.com or to firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration in the HGDP.