While receiving her master’s degree in geology from Texas Christian University, Andrée Griffin came across her most valuable find. In 1987, the Fort Worth native was offered an internship with Sun Exploration and Production Co. in Abilene, Texas. Recently married and hesitant to move across the state, Griffin scouted advice on her dilemma.
“Getting input from people whom I admire, because of how they work, learning from their experiences, or what they have accomplished, has caused me to make career decisions with more conviction than I might have on my own,” she says.
Her graduate school thesis advisor shared the dire state of the industry with her but said “you will accept.” The advice taught her the importance of listening and asking questions, which she has utilized as a golden nugget to success across her 35-year career in the industry.
As an intern, Griffin’s work included prospecting for sand channels on the Eastern Shelf of the Midland Basin, and by Griffin’s graduation, the company offered her a permanent position as a production geologist.
“I loved putting the puzzle pieces together to understand the hydrocarbon system and the subsurface,” she says. “I could not imagine having more fun than that at work.”
As a woman on the job, Griffin knew that her gender was a factor, but her approach was to establish the importance of every job whether held by her or her male colleagues. The more she maintained a level of respect, the more receptive the onsite team was to helping her get the job done. She even invited her colleagues to her scope to see what she was testing and explained why it was significant.
“Often the rig hands, once they understood how our jobs were connected, would catch my samples for me. The tool pusher would let me set up a scope in the dog house rather than on the roof of my car,” she says. “It was a powerful lesson [I learned] that if people know they are an important part of a team, good things happen.”
Sun E&P reorganized, and Oryx Energy Co. emerged in 1989. Griffin’s last position was as the North American planner. Prior to that, she worked on Sun’s exploration divisions focused on the Permian Basin, the Barnett Shale, well before the advent on unconventionals, and Texas Gulf of Mexico.
She went on to hold various leadership positions with Union Pacific Resources Group Inc. (UPR), Burnett Oil Co. and Wagner Oil Co. before joining XTO Energy Inc. as a division geologist in 2004.
Griffin remembers joining XTO, Exxon Mobil Corp.’s subsidiary, at the advent of unconventional development and—recently celebrating 15 years with XTO—she has had the chance to see the industry “progress unconventionals in all aspects, from resource quality analyses, technology application and development practices.”
At her start with UPR, onshore 3-D seismic was transforming domestic exploration. Now, she sees the unconventional landscape being shaped by horizontal drilling, hydraulic fracturing and artificial intelligence.
“This segment of our industry is so young, but to see how far we have come in such a short time is truly amazing,” she says. “Thanks to the unconventional development in the last 15 years, energy independence is a reality. We now have the ability, as a country, to share the resources we have with the rest of the world.”
Exxon Mobil acquired XTO to enhance its unconventional position in 2010. In 2018, Griffin was part of the team tasked with moving a large XTO group from the Fort Worth, Texas, campus to Exxon Mobil’s Spring, Texas, location. She currently manages its unconventional development team focused on driving technology application, business development and efficiencies.
“The resource identification is no longer the most critical issue,” she says. “Our focus is now on developing and extracting the hydrocarbons in the most cost effective manner to optimize value.”
Griffin encourages the next wave of professionals to stay driven, passionate and curious to continue learning, especially as technology develops.
“Those that have a high degree of intellectual curiosity are those that I have seen do really well in this industry,” she says. “Today’s workforce is largely technology driven. The tools and artificial intelligence provide options for understanding the subsurface, the efficiencies of operations and the value that can be derived from our efforts; learn to use them.”
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