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Paul M. - Operations Superintendent , Key Energy Services

Paul M., 44, is operations superintendent for well servicing provider Key Energy Services in Casper, Wyoming.  Paul calls what he has a management job and a human resources job all rolled into one.  He’s in charge of service rigs and the personnel and finances that go with them.  “I have to manage the budget, set up training for the individuals who work for me, and all the personnel matters that go along with dealing with individuals.  So it’s kinda like being a big brother and a father at the same time.” 

Although Paul didn’t go to college, he attended several trade schools in mechanics.  “I started in the early 80’s in the oil field, and just busted my butt and set a high standard for myself, and eventually worked my way into management.”  Paul agrees he’s done well, but still wishes “I would have started with a college degree in engineering.  It probably would have taken me up the ladder faster, but I was young and foolish and decided to just jump right in for the dollars.”  He was with several companies which Key Energy later acquired.

A big reason Paul chose the oil and natural gas industry was the opportunity to spend a lot of time working outside. “There’s nothing the same, you’re always in a different place, seeing different people, and I really like working outdoors.”  He travels to Nevada, Utah, Colorado and Montana for Key.

He also enjoys the career advancement opportunities the company provides.  “I kept my nose to the grindstone, worked hard, and showed that I was enthusiastic for the company -- and it’s paid off in the end.”  The most challenging part of the job, he says, is handling the personnel, “taking care of them, making sure they’re happy and safe.  It’s just a day-to-day challenge in this industry.”

He’s in the office early on a typical day.  I’m on the computer, lining up work for my guys, liming up training for them, I go out in the field to inspect the rigs and all the equipment to make sure they’re up to our standards.  It’s fast and furious.”

If a student or young person in another career asked for his advice about the oil and gas industry, Paul says he’s tell them to get into it without hesitation.  “I’d possibly even steer him back toward college and a degree in petroleum engineering.  The industry is really short on engineers right now, especially good young enthusiastic kids.”

Paul rejects any suggestion that the oil industry is out-of-date and becoming irrelevant. “That’s not true…the oil’s not running out.  We’re into natural gas.  For years, they didn’t pursue the natural gas [because] they were after the oil.  The future is natural gas -- it’s clean-burning, and there’s plenty of it here.  My father said the same thing - someday the oil’s gonna run out…there’s no sense getting into that industry…you’ll be without as job soon.  But 20 years later, here I am, still.”

He also notes that “it’s a never-ending cycle.  Every well that they drill will sooner or later have to be plugged because it’s been depleted.  So there will be a lot of jobs to plug them.”