An Interview with Cole Hendrickson

IBA Alum Highlight - The First in a New Series

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)

The Imperial Barrel Award (IBA) has a growing alumni network spread around the world that began in 2007, when it was introduced to the AAPG as an educational program for students interested in a career in the petroleum industry.

The IBA committee has faced many challenges over the years from multiple price crashes to a global pandemic. The continuation of the program is a testament to the dedication of the individuals who volunteer their time to organize the competition and mentor and judge the students that participate in this program. This column highlights the incredible individuals that have volunteered and participated in the IBA since AAPG began conducting the program.

The inaugural IBA participant/interviewee is Cole Hendrickson, a 2017 graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University and participant of the 2016 IBA competition.

JA: Tell us about your current job and your background.

CH: I am currently a geological consultant serving the oil and gas industry. I was first introduced to geology when I was a kid growing up in Hawaii, knowing the geologic significance of the islands was just part of living there. I have desired to work in the oil and gas industry since college when I found a real passion for geology. I attended graduate school at Stephen F. Austin State University in deep East Texas, where I joined the IBA team and was given a chance to work with real data. From there I was hooked! I started my career in the oil fields of West Texas as a mudlogger where I gained skills that helped me transition into my first operations and development geologist role at Anadarko in Midland. I have since moved into consulting which allows me to bring my broad skillset to smaller companies.

JA: How did competing in IBA assist with your career development?

CH: Competing in IBA really solidified my desire to be a petroleum geologist. I didn’t attend one of the “oily” schools, so the team and I really had the opportunity to learn on our own. I had seen a few logs in different classes through school, but the huge data set we were given during the competition really made it fun. It was my first time fitting together pieces of data like that to tell a story. On top of that, we had a great industry advisor, I even ended up working with him after my career kicked off. We developed a great relationship and stay in touch today. Lastly, I made great friends. So, IBA really ended up helping me in several ways.

JA: What is the most valuable lesson you learned in IBA that has helped you the most in your career?

CH: Use all the data.When you have a wealth of data sometimes it seems like certain things matter less, but they’re still part of the story. So always work hard to include all of the data in your analysis without bias. Paying attention to the little things can make or break your project in IBA and in your career.

JA: What are you doing now? Active in any society?

CH:Today I’m a geologic consultant in Midland working for small operators in the Permian Basin. I have been active in societies since deciding I wanted to be a geologist and am heavily involved with the AAPG Student Expo Committee. Many students are probably familiar with our event in Houston. It’s special to me because that’s where I got the start to my career. I have also been active in the West Texas Geological Society since I first moved to Midland in 2018. I started as the abstract editor for their fall symposium. Last year I served as secretary and this year I was elected vice president. Midland has a dense population of geologists for such a small town which makes it a great community to be involved in.

JA: What is next in your career?

CH: Like many of my colleagues, I plan to make it through this industry downturn and get to the other side with new skills, a bigger network, and hit the ground running. I’d like to transition back to a full-time position with an active operator and focus on expanding my role as a geologist. So far, my career has focused heavily on operations however, I enjoyed my exposure to field development and would like steer my career down that path next.

JA: Where would you like your career to be in 20 years?

CH: Honestly, in 20 years I hope to have my own shop with some of my best friends as my partners putting together prospects that give us solid returns.

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