By Corey Paul
Odessa American, Texas.
Jennifer Rice started six years ago in the oilfield on the drilling and production side. She helped oversee drilling on behalf of a mineral owner on a ranch, and later she moved into managing facilities for BHP Billiton Petroleum.
Often she was the only woman on the lease.
“You definitely have to have a personality to be able to do it,” Rice said. “You can’t take stuff from people, from the guys.”
Rice is part of a growing demographic of female oil and gas workers, but the field remains dominated by men. Still, she said she sees the impact of women in the industry at the job she landed in January as an engineering tech in the upstream unconventional arm of ConocoPhillips.
“It was uncommon for women to be out there,” Rice said. “And now I have several female friends that work as pumpers that are supervisors. My supervisor at Conoco in engineering . . . is female. It’s awesome.”
But Rice and a host of other women who work in the Permian Basin oil and gas industry see room for improvement. About 130 women gathered on Thursday in Midland at “Paint the Permian Pink,” a luncheon aimed at fostering more women working in the energy industry and helping them carve paths to success.
The keynote speaker was Katie Mehnert, a former health and safety executive at the supermajors BP and Shell who retired in 2014 to found Pink Petro, an industry social network that counts Halliburton and Shell as backers.
The event, at Teen Flow Ministry in downtown Midland, included a presentation about preventative women’s health care and a lunch of pink pancakes. But it focused mostly on business, and using Pink Petro to foster female employment in the oil and gas industry.