The Great Rift Valley is one of the greatest tectonic features in Africa, caused by the fracturing of the Earth’s crust, and characterised by dramatic landscapes, striking geological features and substantial volcanic activity.
It’s little wonder then that Exploration Geologist, Alex Stuart, the third generation of his family to grow up in East Africa, developed a fascination with the way the earth was formed and the processes that continue shaping it today.
This life-long interest has invariably spilled over into his career. After studying Exploration & Resource Geology at Cardiff University in Wales, UK, he embarked on a master’s degree in Environmental Hydrogeology, before joining Spirit Energy in 2009.
It has not all been all plain sailing, as Alex explains. “When I graduated, rather unfortunately we were in the midst of a global recession,” he said. “Opportunities were very thin on the ground so, naturally, you send out as many applications as possible. Spirit Energy was one of the first applications I sent out, so when I heard back from them, I grabbed hold of the opportunity with both hands.”
After taking part in a day-long selection process, Alex landed a summer internship, moving to Aberdeen in May 2010. In September that year, he joined the Subsurface team as a graduate geologist.
Alex spent the first couple of years working with the UK Exploration team, supporting business development projects, license round applications and geotechnical work on licenced acreage, followed by a stint on the appraisal team for the Bligh project. Following that, he was the Asset Geologist for Chestnut, where he helped to remodel the asset’s injectite field, courtesy of the better-quality seismic data that was available.
After that, Alex spent two years living and working in Stavanger in Norway, with fond memories of the experience. He said: “It was great. The Norwegians have a wonderful culture and a different perspective on work-life balance. And although most business is conducted in English, the way they translate things is different, so you get an important diversity of thought, which I learned a huge amount from.”
On returning to Aberdeen in 2017, Alex came full circle, re-joining the UK Exploration team as Project Geologist for Andromeda and Pegasus West - where Spirit Energy is the operator with a 55% interest - as well supporting license round activity such as screening and applications for new acreage.
The breadth of experience Alex has gained through his time at Spirit Energy has also enabled him to achieve Chartered status with The Geological Society of London.
“I achieved my Chartership last year,” Alex said. “One of the main reasons that I have been able to do that is because I have worked across so many different types of projects during my time at Spirit. So, I have a bit more breadth than I might have had, if I had worked in a bigger company. That’s one of the main benefits of working for a small to medium-sized company; the teams are small, so your voice always counts. It allows you to get a lot of exposure early on in your career.
“When I was at university, one of my lecturers said told us that people who choose to study geology ‘never look at things in the same way again’. He wasn’t wrong. It’s not just my career that it has influenced. All my holidays follow a similar theme too. My wife and I are always travelling to volcanoes, glaciers or some other type of interesting landscape – from Tenerife and Iceland, to Jebel Akhdar in the Al Hajar Mountains of Oman and Mount Etna in Sicily. It’s real – once you have an appreciation for the wonderfully diverse world we live in, you can’t help but ask questions about it!”