Benjamin MONTICONE

Geologist

Benjamin is an explorer at heart. A passionate geologist, he is creative, loves starting projects from scratch and then developing them, finding compromises along the way, writing a story and convincing others. A true oil researcher! After two years in London, this 30-year-old qualified engineer has been based in Paris since September 2014.

Can you tell us about your career pathway ? Your professional journey ?

I attended the National School of Geology in Nancy with a third year in apprenticeship at IFP School - the French Institute of Petroleum - Training GOL.

As a child, I loved maps. I wanted to join the National Geographic Institute. But with satellites, maps of the earth’s surface no longer have any secrets! So I turned to geology and the oil industry, to draw subsurface maps, where there still remains a lot of work to be done..

I have always been interested in Perenco but I wanted to learn my skills elsewhere initially, before joining this company. So I began my career in a start-up, Toreador, specialising in the development and exploration of hydrocarbons in the Paris Basin. I really enjoyed this first experience, very entrepreneurial, with versatile jobs and therefore educational.

Why did you chose Perenco ?

I sensed it was a different company and my experience has confirmed it to me.

It is a family business whose history has been strongly influenced by the founders. The company is still young enough for the story to be written every day and my wish is to play a part in this story as it continues.

The decision chain at Perenco is very short. We can have ideas, put them forward and then see them succeed in a few months, whereas elsewhere, it would take years

What does your role entail and what challenges do you face ?

I search for oil barrels!

I am a geologist. My job is to find oil. I am in charge of highlighting new development opportunities on mature assets but also to find new fields. My job is therefore to collect and model data and offer an assessment of reservoir potentials and of the uncertainties and risks involved. When I think I have found a good target, I make recommendations to the management for investment decisions. In fact, I write stories!

A good well is first and foremost a beautiful story. A good well is a simple well, easy for everyone from all disciplines to understand. It is essential to generate adhesion and cooperation around the project. It's a team sport.

Upstream oil is a risky business, because whatever the studies carried out and whatever the money invested, up until it has been drilled, we cannot be certain about the result of the well. You have to be optimistic, believe in it and be proactive. You have to take projects from start to finish to see them completed. It is a big responsibility.

At 27, Perenco trusted me. They invested heavily in my ideas. I had the chance to participate in beautiful discoveries in Gabon.

What is great is that we are allowed to make mistakes. Drilling a dry well... it has happened to me.

I am an explorer at heart. Later in life, I will measure my success to the number of barrels found!

As a geologist, what is your favourite continent ?

My favourite fields are in Africa. I am in love with African geology, it is so rich.

How do you work as part of a team?

In geosciences, we always work as a team: a geologist, a petrophysicist, a geophysicist and a reservoir engineer: very different profiles but very complementary. Some have very strong mathematical skills, whereas I always start by drawing with my crayons! Then only, I use modelling software to integrate the data from each section 

Being in Paris, I have the chance to interact with others from different disciplines: drilling, production, projects ... Relationships are facilitated by the physical proximity, but more so by the mind-set. It is easy to meet a collaborator from another department but also to meet with the senior management.

And with the subsidiaries ?

I regularly go to a subsidiary for technical meetings. The representatives vary, but the objective is always the same: to convince. In fact, as a geologist, we bring ideas, we propose where to drill, we must always compromise on technical limits or surface problems. We often have to review our work. It is a repetitive job but we are constantly adapting and innovating

What do you like most about your job ?

Being able to start projects from scratch. The feeling of harnessing nature. It is the journey that is exciting. Interpreting a seismic line, planning a well or outcrop ... and then drilling, waiting for the result of drilling, day and night. Nothing is sure until the end but if successful, what a complete exhilaration!

While Perenco often wins, nature always wins. As geologists, we are in touch with nature. Nature surprises us all the time, it forces you to respect it

What is your proudest achievementt ?

My next discovery… !

What do you think is your best contribution to Perenco ?

My creativity.

Which one of your qualities is most appreciated at Perenco ?

The unifying element, to find the right compromise between different disciplines, which is essential to the integration of all data.

Which corporate value(s) do you most admire at Perenco?

Passion. Oil is in our blood

How would you describe Perenco ? What would you say to convince someone to join Perenco ?

It is a company where anything is possible, as long as you are able to bring ideas.

Staggered questions
  • Your favourite word and one that you hate ?

    Dream / Conformism

  • A way to relieve stress ?

    I am never stressed

  • In a football team, what position would you play?

    Coach

  • What is your favourite acronym ?

    STOOIP (Stock Tank Original Oil In Place)

  • Someone you follow?

    Nobody, I am not a follower.

  • What do you miss the most when you are far away?

    Cheese !

  • How do you stay connected to your loved ones?

    I am in favour of writing letters… but I do give in to the ease of using Skype !

  • Your favourite country ?

    Planet Earth

  • Your favourite holidays ?

    With a hammer.

  • Complete this sentence :

    Benjamin, is the dreamer of Perenco.