From looking out to sea as a toddler, to looking under it as a geophysicist, Grant Lethbridge’s future has always been tied to Newfoundland’s
GRANT LETHBRIDGE GREW UP ALONGSIDE NEWFOUNDLAND’S
offshore oil industry. “In the early days of exploration, I was still a toddler,” says Lethbridge, a senior geophysicist for Statoil who now works on the company’s offshore Newfoundland assets. In hindsight, it was that newness—at least partially—that lured him into a career in oil and gas. “Our offshore industry is very young; our first offshore field was Hibernia which only started production in 1997. Then we had Terra Nova come on in 2002. I was very connected to it in that sense. I think it’s that young, long-term potential of the offshore industry that got me interested in it.”
Soon after graduating high school, Lethbridge began studying earth sciences at Memorial University in St. John’s, where he graduated in 2005. He later began focusing on the study of geophysics, which was something that intrigued him from the start due to its hands-on applicability and its relationship with the physical world. “A lot of [sciences] go into the theoretical versus the applied applications, so you do a lot of theory work,” Lethbridge says. “In geophysics you actually work on the ground and there’s a lot more applications where you can use it in industry roles.
He quickly gained his footing in the profession, and was soon working with Petro Canada for a brief time before its merger with Suncor Energy. He moved away from Newfoundland to Calgary between 2007 and 2010, where he worked for Suncor in western Alberta. But he felt compelled to return home—many Newfoundlanders are naturally “homebodies,” he says—and he was soon back in his home province working on Suncor’s offshore Newfoundland assets.
In 2014, he made the move over to Statoil, where he works largely on some of the same assets as before—Statoil is a partner in the Hibernia and Terra Nova fields, as well as the developing fields Hebron and Hibernia Southern Extension. Lethbridge quickly learned to enjoy working in the offshore industry, as well as working for a more internationally focused firm like Statoil. “When you’re talking about drilling a well offshore you’re talking about $100- to $150-million decision versus if you’re doing something onshore it might be anywhere between $100,000 to $10 million,” he says. “A lot more goes into that decision. You just get involved in a lot of different aspects of the industry, and from the technical and geophysics angle, there’s a lot of things you can look at.”
Lethbridge says he enjoys his role as senior geophysicist largely because of the exposure he gets to the inner workings of the industry, allowing him to look at everything from geology to due diligence and economics. As for what’s next in his career, he says he’s more focused on the here-and-now. “If you can be profitable at low oil prices, you’ll be very successful when prices recover. So I have that same approach to what career options there may be beyond 2017. I’m looking for robust, yet exciting, opportunities. Working in a very young basin, developmentally speaking, there is a lot of potential and I’m looking forward to unlocking its secrets.”
Age: 32 Birthplace: Mount Pearl, NL Education: Bachelor of Science, Memorial University; Master of Science, Memorial University Current Position: Senior Geophysicist, Operations, Statoil