How's Work?: High Energy
Meet Darcie Doebereiner, drilling and completions process engineer for Consol Energy.
Photo by Mark Simpson
Job: Drilling and Completions Process Engineer, Consol Energy
Editor’s Note: Marcellus shale drilling has had a significant impact on western Pennsylvania’s commerce, communities, landowners and residents since 2004, when the region’s first Marcellus well was completed in Washington County. To note the 10-year occasion, How’s Work? speaks with Darcie Doebereiner to discuss what a specialized gig in the modern energy field looks like today.
How did you get into this field?
I actually have two older brothers who went into petroleum engineering as well . . . [they said] that if I wanted a great career path in something that was going to last in this area, to go to Marietta College and major in engineering.
What do you do each day?
[My team has engineering] solutions to [operational] problems out here, whether it’s safety or needing new equipment or to change our current operations. We go out and talk to different contractors; we get their best solutions. We just do a lot of research on different equipment and new and upcoming technology, and we implement it out here in the field.
Have you faced any weird safety challenges?
We had a [stray] cat that followed one of our other rigs for four or five different locations, just because it knew it would get food from the rig hands. [When an animal starts following us,] we make sure that if it gets too close to the rig, someone will [make sure it’s safe].
You’re working in a traditionally male-dominated field, though that reality is shifting. Does that affect you?
It doesn’t really bother me. I know there are a [few] older guys in the field who don’t appreciate even younger people . . . They just don’t want you to come in acting like you know it all.
How does your work ensure that what you do is safe for the environment?
As long as you do everything according to plan and with state regulation, there is nothing that can go wrong. I mean, as long as you are making sure that [the] processes that you are doing are correct, and you are doing them the way they are supposed to be done — you’re protecting the environment; you’re protecting the water, [casing] strings, coal, everything. We have five different casing strings that we run into the ground. Everything is cemented in.
You were on this job while pregnant. What was that like?
I stayed out into the field until I was five months pregnant. When winter started to get bad, I went back into the office to make sure [working] wasn’t a hazard to me or my pregnancy.
I’d guess they don’t make the gear you wear out here in maternity sizes.
No, so that was part of it! When I got too big to fit into my coveralls, I had to go [work in] the office.