Subsurface team

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A subsurface team is a multidisciplinary team that manages production for a field and looks for ways of getting more hydrocarbons out of that field. In a large company, this team will include some combination of the job titles listed in the table below. Teamwork is essential because the staggeringly complex nature of a subsurface operation means that the various disciplines have to integrate their specific areas of expertise for the venture to be successful. Some oil companies have separate geology and engineering department, but regardless of the makeup of the team, short lines of communication should exist within the team such that an inclusive atmosphere of shared purpose is created. Any problems that arise can then be quickly recognized and solved by common directed action.

Table 1. Professional disciplines within a subsurface team.[1]
Job title Job description
Subsurface manager Manages and coordinates the work of everyone in the subsurface team.
Production geologist Responsible for understanding and modeling the geological framework of the reservoir. Helps to identify and plan new well locations.
Geophysicist Spends much of his/her time interpreting seismic data to define the reservoir structure and fault distribution. Where the seismic data allow, depositional environments, and rock and fluid properties can also be characterized.
Petrophysicist A key task is to analyze wireline logs to quantify the rock and fluid properties of the reservoir at the well scale.
Technical assistant Provides technical support to the team. This includes data management, data preparation, and computer mapping.
Reservoir engineer Predicts how much oil and gas a field is likely to produce, and may use a computer simulation of reservoir performance to analyze how the field will behave as well as taking a lead in reservoir management activities.
Production engineer Responsible for optimizing all the mechanical aspects of hydrocarbon production from the wellbore to the surface facilities.
Production chemist Analyzes and treats problems related to scale formation, metal corrosion, drilling fluids, wax formation, and solids precipitation between the reservoir and the surface facilities.
Drilling engineer (Well engineer) Plans the mechanical aspects of any well operations including drilling new wells.
Economist Costs and evaluates any economic activity relevant to the subsurface.


  1. Shepherd, M., 2009, Oil Field Production Geology: AAPG Memoir 91, 350 p.