Mak­ing Waves

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

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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

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