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ARCO alumna Brenna Patterson has admirably balanced the best of both worlds throughout her careers in the oil industry and as a mother. After earning her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at Stanford, she went straight to work in Prudhoe Bay Engineering. “Those were some of the best years and fondest memories of my career,” she says. “[This was] shortly after the price of oil had dropped in the $10 range. Jobs were scarce, and it was a great opportunity.” Brenna worked in the Flow Station 2 group, first as a DrillSite11 and then as a DrillSite 4 engineer.
After a couple of years, she transferred into the FullField Engineering Group and became responsible for oversight of the BP side of the field, issues of global operating strategies and reservoir management. “Those times were definitely my favorite, as the work and the people were characterized by hard work and results and less by ‘beaurocracy’ and ‘appearances,’” she says.
Following her years with Prudhoe, Brenna’s work experiences included the Cook Inlet Trading Bay Unit, Beluga and eventually Kuparuk, where she worked in CPF-1, fracturing, IWAG management and more reservoir engineering. At that point, Brenna had been with ARCO for 10 years when she married fellow ARCO alumnus John Groth, and she decided to stay home to raise their family. John’s career relocated them from Alaska to Oklahoma to Texas; when he retired in 2004, Brenna wanted to return to work. In an unexpected turn, John became ill and sadly passed away two years later.
Brenna remained strong and says she was fortunate to find an accommodating job at ConocoPhillips in 2007. Her position in the Heavy Oil Technology Group in Houston allowed her to work flexible hours while raising her two sons, Michael and Justin, now 17 and 14. Brenna’s main project was developing strategies to optimize the Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage process. “I enjoyed my first opportunity to run thermal reservoir simulations,” she says. “There were great people at ConocoPhillips as well, many I’d known from my days with ARCO.”
Although Brenna has an impressive resumé, her family continues to be her greatest pride. “To this day, the children are the biggest joy and accomplishment I can ever hope to have,” she says. In late 2009, Brenna moved to Midland, Texas, and married ARCO alumnus Bill Patterson. Bill’s General Manager position with ConocoPhillips prevented Brenna from continuing to work for the company, so she resigned. But her job as a mother is still going strong! “The boys are growing up and still drive much of our free time,” she says. “We attend their basketball and football games, and we play golf a couple of times a week. I’m also involved in a Bible study.” Pictured at left: Brenna and Bill at their wedding. From L to R, ARCO Alumni not in parentheses: David Hearn, Kathleen Young, Don Scheve, Mike Morris, (Jamilla Scheve), Ken Powers, Terry Powers, Joe Schmidt, (Pat Schmidt), Brenna, Bill, (Tim Redford), (Kirk Czirr), (Dan Wolf), (Sherrie Czirr), (Bob Dartez), (Ashley Dartez) and Curtis Blount.
As her boys get older, Brenna has considered the idea of returning to work. “Ideally I could find work that would apply my analytical skills, either in reservoir, production or operations engineering,” she says. From her previous professional experience, Brenna says she gained appreciation for both the immediate satisfaction of improving an oil well's performance and the long-term projects that improved reservoir recovery.
And ARCO continues to have a positive impact in Brenna’s life. “[Bill and I] still love to sit around and talk about ARCO and the people we knew and know,” she says. “We still have many ARCO friends that come through town and visit.”
SM Energy is developing a portfolio of resource plays with a focus on growth in oil and rich gas.
View their information below:
Tim Seidel scanned Southern District Exploration org charts from Nov 1990 to June 1991.
After much interest from ARCO Alumni, some organizational charts have been sent to us and scanned. Have a look at who was where within the ARCO team.
Do you have any ARCO memorabilia or photos to share? Scan them and send them to ARCO Alumni to be featured on the site.
When ARCO Alumnus Mike Smith left the corporate world at 55 years of age, he estimates 100% of his business opportunities were based purely on his contacts and network. Today that figure is approximately 50%.
‘Thism combines grounded oil and gas operational and technical expertise with the more interpersonal sides of a company. We are specialists in the oil and gas sector and have been working for International Operators, Non-Operators and Service Providers since 1976. We hire Associates from our network in the industry that equal our experience and share the Thism company values (Thism Isms').’
Mike quickly learned that once your network generated work is exhausted it is quite a different and challenging task to generate new business. He has found the ARCO network very useful for many reasons, including knowledge sharing, networking, friendship and building trust. He gives an example of how common colleagues are found during conversation: - ‘I met with a potential new client for the first time. He asked me if I knew a particular person in ARCO. I responded that this person was one of my favourite ARCO colleagues and such a wonderful person. He replied ‘he is my father in-law’! From that our conversation and friendliness was on a different and much more familiar level.’
As with many other corporate professionals who decide to form their own companies, one benefit is choosing where to live. Mike runs his business out of Alessandria, Italy, where he lives with his wife Gabrielle and son Joshua. Upon setting up Thism the couple decided that they could run the business from anywhere and so for two years they spent winters in France and summers in Italy. When it was time for Joshua to start school a choice had to be made and ‘Italy was an easy winner’ says Mike. He finds it a challenge to work from Italy due to the bureaucracy involved with tax and the lack of industry network and clients. There is also more and further travel involved than if Thism were UK based.
OE Project - Drilling Engineer - Overseas
A proficient drilling engineer with drilling programs expertise (especially, complex wells - offshore deep wells, HPHT conditions), capable to manage a feasibility study is required.
The right candidate will have:
-Preferably 20+ years in the industry and a sound understanding of drilling technology
-Knowledge of directional drilling, UBD, MPD, completion, workovers and well interventions, abandonment programmes, horizontal drilling, well construction in deep water and heavy oils, well planning and costing
-Production enhancement; this would be an advantage
-Good networking skills and an ability to build successful working relationships within different working cultures.