Standing Up In The DD/MWD/LWD Industry

* Based on my personal point of view as a field engineer/consultant. Yours might be different.

Due to rapid development and implementation of Directional Drilling/MWD/LWD technology in oil and gas exploration and production, sometimes it is quite difficult for us to keep up and being familiar with all updates. Meanwhile, qualified personnel with the best skills and experience are on high demand. People are continuously asking you for best performance by keeping the efficiencies high and everything must be completed in great speed. Less efforts, great results and huge profits are the business fundamentals here.

Obviously, not all of us have the access to the new technologies. Only a few of us, the lucky birds, are granted the opportunity to stay updated and play with the latest arsenal. The great competition among the oilfield service companies makes the situation more unfavorable to outsiders in learning and runnng new stuff. These companies have strong policies to protect their work. They are highly concerned if someone reveals their latest technology, their tools, their techniques and their people as other companies would hijack the resources. So, please do not count on the access if you are not, in any way, affiliated with them. They just do not want to put their business in jeopardy and avoid their shareholders going mad by being a such loser in the industry.

But, how do we, the independent consultants/professionals with no affiliation, improve our skills and stand up? Honestly, I have no fixed clues about this for sure. Usually, if and only if, the ‘ideal’ situation is fulfilled, we educate or train ourselves by following professional trainings at independent oilfield technology vendors until we get certified and eligible to do the job, we gain work experience by actively engaging ourselves in various drilling projects, and we learn from other parties involved in drilling operation as much as we can. The key rule is, more often you are on the field, the more you get new experience and the more you improve your skills. It sounds cliche, however. Yes, I know. How about the reality? Is that easy to accomplish those things if you stand alone?

The real implementation is not that simple and quite complicated for some of us. Challenges, opportunities and obstacles are anywhere, ready to accompany you side by side all the time. Education, capital, self initiative and motivation only are just not enough to make you survive. We do need in-/outside support , chance and some luck. Moreover, having a trusted network is a must. Although you already become a certified professional, there is no guarantee at all you will easily find work opportunity or project. Some project information are not public announced and only available for limited cell. You must be aware, no or limited work experience or project means no added value for your future. The same thing applies as well with drilling knowledge. Please remember, no free lunch. If you think you can get this knowledge for free, you are wrong. You have to earn it, either by paying and attending the class or learning directly from friends who want to share their knowledge. To be considered as a good and reliable friend/partner by someone else in this industry, usually you must show your quality first and prove you are worth it for them. When you are finally there, don’t get surprised that you will get many valuable information. Some of them would be your starting point to move ahead and expand your horizons. It is also recommended to get contact with many people from different oilfield companies as it will support your further career development.

Working for yourself is quite challenging. You have to make sure you have proper things in your hands. So, if you are not ready, please do not follow this path. Play safe, be an employee of one of the oilfield service companies. Your life would be much better and guaranteed. I myself have no objection at all if I am now being hired as employee or contractor. I always welcome any prospective opportunities coming to my face.

The main risk of being an independent professional/consultant, in my opinion, is not able to having or engage in any project for such a long time. Meanwhile, you have many lives (you and family) to sustain. As result, you are going to land in quite dilemmatic situation. “Should I go or stop now? Do I have to change my direction?” However, one thing is worth mentioned, there is no easy and fast road to achieve something you believe in. You will need all your guts to carry on. But, please be wise in analyzing your situation.

Furthermore, don’t waste your free time by doing nothing. Learn new skills or things in each time you have a break, while working on getting a new project. Upgrade your knowledge. It doesn’t have to be a drilling subject, any subject does matter. You never know what lies ahead. The more you learn, the more you open your future. At the same time, maintain any existing relationship you have. Some jobs mostly come from your network. As we live in the internet era, don’t forget to take advantage of any online resources, like job boards, forum, news papers, etc.

To end this writing, I quote a famous citation of Isaac Newton as end remark,

“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”

Do you have something to say regarding this entry? Please leave your comment below.  Thank you.



  1. I want to start working as a M/LWD Field technician. I am in Canada and my sister is a Well Site Geologist and she says I am perfect for it. However, I’m not sure what the market is like right now. Any comments?


  2. I hear that DD’s in North America are sitting at home for over a year now. Do you think the market for DD’s has saturated? As a mechanical engineer starting out in the field, I have an option of becoming an AD in 3 years or switch to MWD right now and then go on to be DD. Which option do you think is better considering the current market scenario?

    Will there be a demand for new DD’s 4 years down the line with so many experienced people already in the field?

  3. As Blackwater said, the market is not very good as many are facing slowing down in operation due to the development of oil prices, low demand and global financial crisis. But, I believe this situation is going to be much better in the last quarter of this year. The oil prices are slow but sure to increase. The demands to do work over of the old wells or re-entries are increasing in the last few months and still in favor than drilling new wells. So this business will survive anyway. Just stay in the business and have a strong faith, guys. God is not going to leave us suffering. 🙂

    To Zubin, I am sorry I can not give you good recommendation as my knowledge is limited. But if you asked me, I would suggest you to be a specialist than generalist if you can. Being MWD right now and stepping up to DD would be a good choice. I assume people are going to need someone like you in the near future. But if you would like to explore the field a little bit, gain field skills and experience before entering MWD/DD, AD would be a good start. It all depends on your work orientation, anyway. Don’t you worry about so many experienced people on the field, newbies are always welcome. They love to have you among them. It is your best chance to improve and develop yourself by learning directly from the experts. Just be positive and optimist. Ok?

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