A Passion for Problem Solving
When asked what his career goals are, Jude hesitates, then smiles. "I feel like I'm living my dream now," he says. In fact, he says he has attained many of the career milestones he set when he first joined Marathon Oil in 2006. "Now I just want to keep growing and learning."
And solving problems. That was the passion that first led him to choose petroleum engineering as a college major in his native Nigeria, and it drives him today. "I loved math and science growing up," he recalls. "What excites me is problem-solving. When I'm in the middle of a project or problem, I lose sleep over it because I want to solve it." He considered going into medicine, but seeing how much a cousin enjoyed petroleum engineering, he chose that path at university.
His next move was to Houston, working first with the Wyoming assets as a reservoir engineer and then as an appraisal reservoir engineer for the Gulf of Mexico, where he built reservoir models, predicting flow rates and presenting recommendations to senior managers. Then he worked on international assets ("very similar to Wyoming fields but wells producing at ten times the magnitude!"). After working Gulf of Mexico and international production for a few years, he came back to the U.S. conventional as a subsurface supervisor for a couple of years. But 2016 brought a new opportunity – unconventionals.
"For my first ten years, my experience was in conventional fields," he says. "But we had just acquired an expanded acreage in the Oklahoma STACK, and I requested the opportunity to get exposure to resource plays." His role there was to assimilate the newly acquired asset into the company portfolio. His team evaluated the fields, developed the first few infill wells and built out a schedule for future drilling.
"The pace of activity in unconventionals is very different – and so is the scale," Jude points out. "In the Gulf of Mexico, one well could potentially cost a hundred million dollars, and the development is typically a multi-year project. In an unconventional field, you can drill a few dozen wells with that same capital, and the added flexibility to dial activity up or down.
"It means you have to have a different mindset – be ready to adapt and apply learnings as you go. You learn from each well and apply it to the next. I've learned that you need to make decisions with the data that you have – even if you don't have the full picture. You don't always have the luxury of time."
Jude transferred to his current role in Houston in November 2018. His team of seven reservoir engineers, geoscientists and technicians is in charge of the plan of development for the Eagle Ford asset. He finds working with the team and helping them grow and develop rewarding, remembering how he was mentored early in his career.
He spends his free time with his family, including his wife and two young sons he is currently teaching to play chess. "I love to watch their minds develop," he says, not only through the challenges of chess but through exposure to experiences beyond the norm. One example was a trip to Niagara Falls. "They are so spectacular – and the experience itself was powerful."
"I want to be a role model for my sons, show them a hard-working dad, but they also see that I truly enjoy the work I do," he concludes.