Robert Taylor, P.Chem.
Robert is the manager of the Canadian Reservoir Studies Team with Halliburton, one of the world’s largest providers of products and services to the energy industry.
What are your current duties?
The Canadian Reservoir Studies team uses computer modelling software and technical expertise to design fracturing treatments and optimize the drainage of oil and gas reservoirs.
What is your education?
B.Sc. in Chemistry, University of Calgary
Why did you choose to study chemistry?
I had an excellent teacher in high school for grade 11 and 12 Chemistry who interested me in the area. I was intrigued by the deeper understanding chemistry provides of the fundamental scientific principles governing the world around us. I find this facilitates our ability to apply science in the oil and gas business.
What was your first chemistry job? How did you get to where you are today?
My first chemistry job was with Pacific Petroleum in BC doing routine testing of asphalt as a technician in a petroleum lab. I was concurrently working on a research project investigating air blowing of asphalt as a means of upgrading the product to meet more stringent specifications. I then moved to Fracmaster Well Service where I started a lab for routine testing of cement, fracturing, and acidizing fluids. Later I moved to Canan Well Service, then to Nowsco Well Service where I worked in quality control and product development.
In 1997, I was offered a position with Halliburton Energy Services, where I was fortunate to work with some of the global experts in my field. My technical expertise applying chemistry to the energy industry grew as did my understanding of reservoir systems. That led eventually to my interest in computer modelling and my current position in the Reservoir Studies Team. If one has worked as a Chemist in a Petroleum Testing lab involving areas such as core testing and PVT analysis, and you already have field experience, it is a surprisingly easy step to then move into reservoir simulation with proper training. Your lab and field experience provides you with necessary understanding of the fundamental principles governing reservoir flow and drainage. Within Halliburton we do hire graduate Chemists as well as Engineers to enter our “Field Engineering Program” since both disciplines provide the necessary education in fundamental science and its application. Conversely, our Engineers often spend time in the lab being trained in the chemistry and application of our fracturing, acidizing, and cementing fluids.
How has being a P.Chem helped your career as a chemist in the province of Alberta?
My P.Chem. designation has been key to my career because professional recognition and status helps a lot. High standards, recognition of responsibility to society and ethics are extremely important. Who you know through networking is also essential.
What advice would you give a young chemist starting his or her career?
Integrity, work ethic and communication skills are critically important. Try to obtain practical field or operational experience in the area you choose as the constraints on performance are often quite different from what we experience in the lab. Understanding the full scale equipment which will be applied and the conditions it will be used under is critical if you are developing a new product or process. The key is to find good coaches or mentors to work beside so you can develop your technical competency. If you are looking for a job, take the initiative to get to know companies. Research the company and pick up the phone; companies are crying for good technical people but in many cases the people they hire are the individuals who took the initiative to contact them prior to a position being advertised.