Gerald (Jerry) Ebanks graduated from UT in 1966 with an M.A. in Geology. After 15 years with Mobil Oil, Jerry has spent the rest of his career as a consulting geologist. His work with Mobil, as well as a varied consulting career has provided Jerry with experience in a majority of the petroleum provinces in the world. An overwhelming majority has been in oil and gas, but he also has had some experience in non-energy minerals.
What changes have you seen in the profession over the years?
The oil and gas industry, especially the corporate side, has moved from discipline-specific groups within a company to more multidisciplinary teams working together to solve problems and find answers, which I think has had a very good effect on results.
Where do you see the growth opportunities for the profession?
I think the oil and gas side of the profession will continue to experience growth for the foreseeable future, but I also am confident that environmental geology will experience continued growth. And of course, the research and academic fields will need additional personnel to “feed” the other areas with talent and ideas.
Describe your current work.
My current work involves working with multiple oil and gas producing clients to help with geologic interpretation connected to their properties. This primarily involves evaluating existing properties, as well as other properties that may be potential acquisitions. These tasks will include subsurface mapping, well log interpretation, working alongside petroleum engineers, supervising drilling well site operations, recommendations on completions and re-completions in new zones in existing wells.
What does a typical day look like in your line of work?
When working in a corporate office, I always had certain “chores” to attend to, which included updating existing regional maps with information from new well logs from company wells, as well as wells drilled by others. I also had to create additional maps as both I and the supervisor may deem practical. I also had primary responsibility as an exploration geologist to work with industry data in order to find drillable prospects for potential new discoveries. As a development geologist I was tasked with continuing evaluation of a certain group of the company’s fields, looking for additional completions that could be made in existing wells, as well as looking for possible new development well sites. I also worked alongside geophysicists, assisting them in interpretation of seismic data, used to aid in the exploration and development operations.
Describe your work environment.
As a corporate geologist, I had an office along with other geologists in our district. Our data files (mostly logs) were available for instant access to be used in our everyday work. Trips to the field for well site operations usually lasted anywhere from one day to a week or more. As a Mobil geologist, I never was in a district where we needed to do field surface geological mapping, but there were some districts where this type of work also was carried out.
As a consultant, I perform these same types of tasks, except that I may be working in my own private office at home some days and working in a client’s office on other days.
What opportunities exist with various levels of education?
I think the best path for entry into the geological profession for the majority of people would be to obtain a master’s degree in geology. The good fortune of being able to land summer employment in a field related to the type of geology one would prefer to do obviously would be a plus. A bachelor’s degree does not seem to be generally acceptable for employment in most areas as a professional geologist. I also believe that most geological research jobs would require a Ph.D.
What traits, skills and experiences do employers in your field look for in candidates?
Employers are interested in those with sound academic background; relevant experience, as perhaps gained in summer or part-time employment, also will be valuable. But other than those things, potential employers are looking for the same qualities as any employer normally would like to see.
What publications, professional organizations or events would be helpful to students?
For one interested in petroleum geology, membership in AAPG is a must. Once employed, a new hire also should join the local geological society (e. g.: Houston Geological Society or others). There also are other, similar professional organizations more oriented to other fields of geological practice, and AAPG has different sections of membership with similar, varied focus.
Are there any important certifications or licensees that are important in your field?
Many states (including Texas) have licensing requirements, depending on what type of geological work one enters. There is no such requirement in Texas for those pursuing oil and gas work employed in an oil and gas company.
Were there any classes or specific skills from college that you find especially useful in your current work?
In general, just a well-rounded geological education is needed. However, if a student knows early on in their education that they intend to pursue a certain phase of geology (oil and gas, environmental, minerals, etc.), then there may be opportunities to “specialize” or channel their education somewhat. This opportunity definitely should be followed in graduate school if possible, particularly in the choice of a thesis project.
Any other advice for students at the Jackson School?
Work very hard; you have the opportunity to obtain a tremendous education in geology and the opportunity to graduate with some very well-respected credentials.