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  • Matt Spencer

Discover the career of a Petroleum Engineer & Geologist, Ethiopia


I am working within the upstream oil and gas industry and my skills include Petroleum Engineering, Drilling Engineering, Petrophysics, Geology, Geophysics and seismic interpretation.

What inspired you to get into this sort of industry?

I was born in a mountainous area which inspired me to continue my tertiary studies  to know about mountains, gorges, rocks, topographic features etc  and I was also eager to know  what kind of resources do these features have, so I  began university to study my BSc in Geology & Geophysics. Soon after completing my BSc, I got a chance to attend a conference on which PETRONAS presented its petroleum exploration status in Ethiopia and I got a valuable understanding and motivated to join PETRONAS exploration team so that I would involve and add my contributions on the effort of searching of petroleum to make Ethiopia as oil producer. Understanding my motivation & academic background, PETRONAS gave me a full scholarship to study my MSc in Petroleum Engineering and then I joined the petroleum industry.

What qualifications and experience did you have to gain In order to establish yourself and therefore become  a professional  within your industry?

I have MSc in Petroleum Engineering & BSc in Geology and Geophysics with more than four years of upstream petroleum exploration experiences both in office and field works. Currently, I am working as staff Petroleum Engineering, Geologist and Geophysicist in SWE (HK) Ltd. I was also working as a Trainee Engineer/Cementing Operator in WEATHRFOD Drilling International and as a junior Petroleum Engineer in MoME. I have good experience on professional software including SMT, PETREL, GEOSOFT, ARCGIS and other computer application software. I also attended various technical and non technical training courses. I am still eager to know and learn new things in order to become a competent expert which will enable me to make a meaningful difference!

What is the most challenging aspect within your field of work?

My parents haven’t been feeling  good and they have been disturbed at the fact that work in a  field which requires me to work in remote and less secured areas far away from home. Even they were trying to convince me not to go out there.


How do you manage and overcome these challenges?

I persuaded them by properly informing and discussing with them openly with evidence about the existence of basic facilities like good security protection, proper medication and other relevant things. Also I gave them an example of a someone who was working in the same line of work  While I was in the field, I used to call and communicate with them and then slowly they relaxed and through time they became comfortable and adapted my field work.

What has been the highlight of your career?

I am a highly motivated young engineer and seeking an employment opportunity within the Oil & Gas Industry with strong communication skills, passion for learning and teamwork focus and free thinking. Willing to relocate internationally and open to any opportunities with a company for a potential for professional growth. After having practical hands-on field and office work experience, training and professional development on my field of specialization I have a goal to finally move up my career to focus on researches and development to come up with new things to the company and hence for the industry.

If somebody starts as a trainee / beginner within your line of work, what could they earn in salary?

Essentially this is dependent on the company scale, but as a rough estimate one can expect a salary ranging from $3 to 4.5 k/monthly with added benefits:  accommodation, and other travel related expenses should be covered by the company.

What can this person expect to earn after 10 years of experience?

Assuming a smooth inflation and more or less similar world economic conditions, I estimate it to be $8 to 11k/monthly.

Who is your role model and why?

My role model is my current supervisor, he is an Exploration Manager and he was a previous Schlumberger employee with a medium level position. He is an all rounded person ranging from technical to non technical aspects. He is a hard and strong worker who takes not only his work seriously but also his social activities. The word “Impossible” is not part of his vocabulary and he has taken on new challenges as new opportunities in order to achieve what he set out to accomplish. Daily I would learn new things from him and he has made me be the competent, confident and valuable expert I am today.

What motivates you to work this hard?

First all, it is my pleasure to have a profession which requires me to work directly within the petroleum industry which I believe is one of the top global industry’s. As an individual I have a vision in my life to do and contribute something of high value to others. I take on all opportunities where I can  implement my knowledge, experience and skills with freedom and equal rights in order to enhance my professionalism and commitments.

What is your outlook within your industry over the next 5 years?

I think the petroleum industry will keep influencing the world economy as there are no feasible energy resources that could replace petroleum so far. The demand for oil and gas will smoothly increase as so many new emerging economies are discovering new oil. Africa is also awakening and getting stable, apart from terrorism and a few dictator leadership issues . Recently unconventional resources are attracting companies and countries to maintain the demand and supply balance. The recent innovation and invention of new technologies are also factors to keep the oil and gas findings, discoveries and production from declining.


Regarding petroleum resources, currently East African countries located along the Tertiary Great East African Rift System are attracting much attention of both E&P companies and developed countries to participate in the petroleum hunting business. Attention has shifted from West to East Africa as a means  to implement and verify the perspectives and attitudes. Due to instability and poor infrastructures in these East African countries, E&P companies are focusing more on other producible areas and so East Africa Rift System has been left under-explored and considered as less potential. Now, these hunters using the latest technologies and driven by rising oil prices , they want to expand their interest in this region and have started to untap the potential in East Africa by successfully discovering oil and gas in Uganda and Kenya from Tertiary age sediments. There is also expected potential to discover oil in Madagascar, Tanzania and Rwanda. Companies discovered oil and gas in North Kenya just close to Ethio-Kenya border which makes Ethiopia to be a candidate to join the petroleum producers. If Somalia GAINS STABILITY and welcomes the industry, it will show its potential in its Jurassic to Cretaceous deposits which have similar geological settings as Yemen’s producing basins.

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