Hope Okwa studied the MSc Petroleum Engineering by Independent Distance Learning (IDL) and graduated in 2016. After working for Shell, BG-Group, Saudi Aramco and BP International across several countries, he returned to Nigeria as Drilling Project Consultant running integrated Drilling projects (IPM) for smaller oil companies, using his global experience to help companies solve challenging problems including drilling logistics, language barriers, local content issues and technology deployment.

Why did you decide to come to Heriot-Watt over other places offering similar courses?

At the time I started, only Heriot-Watt offered the MSc in Petroleum Engineering by distance learning, and leaving my job in Shell for a fulltime course was not an option. I had a conversation with Professor John Ford, who was one of our trainers and consultants for Shell, and he brought my attention to the distance learning course. Heriot-Watt has an excellent reputation in the field of petroleum engineering worldwide, and the course was very affordable.

Do you feel your degree has prepared you well for a career?

Definitely! At the time that I started, I was working in a multidisciplinary project team and I needed knowledge to understand my team members' perspective in the other disciplines of petroleum engineering. Little did I know at that point that the industry was moving towards an asset based project focus. The knowledge I gained from the modules, every one of them, really helped me to accelerate my career at an international stage.

Has your degree programme helped you develop links with industry?

Of course. I now feel more comfortable with reservoir engineers or production engineers or geoscientists, and as a result of working globally and running drilling projects for four of the largest oil and gas companies in the world, my links and networks have spread across the globe from Nigeria, Angola, and Saudi Arabia to the UK, Canada and the USA.

What was your experience of studying your degree online via Independent Distance Learning?

I found the discipline specific modules very interesting, and I could ask colleagues to explain certain points I didn't quite understand. I found the design project very challenging especially as it called for expertise in every discipline of petroleum engineering, usually carried out by a team of experts, but I was doing it alone in the distance learning format. The most important discovery was that the professors have very deep industry experience and are industry recognised experts in their respective fields. For example, for my dissertation, I worked with Prof. David Davies who had worked around the world for Shell for over 25 years, and Prof. John Ford who had himself run rigs around the world, for many years, as a senior drilling engineer, and who was a consultant to Shell International.

The knowledge I gained from the modules, every one of them, really helped me to accelerate my career at an international stage.

Hope Okwa