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Home  > Insider profile
Jack Atkins
Independent Petroleum Exploration Geologist

"I was in the right place at the right time during a huge oil boom?there?s nothing wrong with luck."

What have been the most defining moments along your career path?

I set myself a goal: I'd be a mudlogger for a year, then work for a large oil corporation for two years, then a small oil company for two years, and then I'd go independent. I pretty much followed that schedule and went independent in 1984. The reason I chose that path is that with most large oil companies, your remuneration is strictly salary and benefits. With smaller companies, you're in a position to get an overriding royalty interest, which gives you a continual monthly income. Once you have enough royalties coming in to support yourself, you can take the big plunge and become independent.

How did you get your big breaks?

I was in the right place at the right time during a huge oil boom?there?s nothing wrong with luck.

What have you learned from your experience?

Geologists who are thinking of becoming independent have a misconception about the amount of money they?ll make. We see big companies making money and we think we?d be rich if we just had a little piece of it. Then we become independent and we find that we don?t have all those resources that a big company has, such as land to drill on and people to do research. We have to do it all ourselves. An independent geologist does a lot of things that he?d consider menial work if he was at an oil company. As for the general public, it usually hasn?t got a clue as to how the oil business works. Most people think that anybody in the oil business is a fat cat wearing a big Stetson hat and driving a Rolls Royce or a Cadillac.

What most excites you about your job right now?

I like the fact that I?m only limited by my imagination. I can do whatever I think of doing. I also like the idea of being at the sharp end of the pencil. If the geologist doesn?t find oil, nothing else happens. That?s where it all starts.

What would you like to have achieved by the last day of your career?

I want to do just what I?m doing?find prospects, sell them, keep a percentage, and then find more.

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