Students at Dana Petroleum

Understanding the UK oil and gas industry

Earlier this month staff and students from the Business School embarked on a Career Trek to Aberdeen, the operational heart of UK oil and gas, to hear insights from experts about the future of the industry and the diverse organisations operating within the sector.

The first of four visits took us to Faroe Petroleum and was organised through Edinburgh MBA alumnus Graham Stewart, who is CEO and founder of the company. Graham laid on a fairly packed schedule and, together with various colleagues (including the Finance Director, International Exploration Director and a senior geophysicist), took the group through the company’s journey, from a startup exploration company in 1998, to the major (if lean) North Sea licence-holder that it is today. The combination of viewpoints from across the business allowed the students to gain valuable insights into the expensive and risky nature of oil and gas exploration, and the subsequent need for innovative and well-thought through financing structures.

Our next stop was Oil & Gas UK, a membership organisation aiming to strengthen the long-term health of the offshore oil and gas industry. Former Operations Director Paul Dyson was able to give the group a comprehensive overview of the North Sea oil and gas sector, including an open and honest (and ultimately fairly positive) view of the future of the sector. In particular, Paul highlighted the increasing importance of the business of decommissioning existing assets and the long term business opportunities existing in that area.

Our visit to Dana Petroleum, organised through Dana’s Group External Affairs Manager Susana Braz, was another extremely varied and interesting morning. Director of HR Stuart Payne gave a lively and dynamic account of the company’s history, recent expansion and internationalisation strategy. This provided an interesting comparison with Faroe Petroleum: while both started with very similar routes in oil and gas exploration, Dana has broadened its business across the oil and gas life cycle, and developed a wider international presence. Stuart went on to discuss some of the career opportunities available at Dana, and in the sector more broadly. His overall message was that while Dana regularly takes on experienced hires and could provide an exciting career for a Business School graduate, it would be sensible for inexperienced graduates to look at joining one of the large oil and gas companies first, and look to move to a company like Dana a few years down the line.

Following this we were treated to an interactive session with one of the company’s senior geophysicists, held in the ‘visualisation suite’. Through a simulation game we gained an insight into the science of oil exploration and extraction and just how difficult it is to predict!

The biggest of the organisations visited by some margin, Shell UK, rounded off the trek by demonstrating how a large multinational approaches the Oil & Gas sector.

Shell UK
Shell UK

The main talk was given by Finance Manager Stan Christie, and was well tailored to those students studying in finance-related disciplines. A graduate recruiter was then able to give an overview of Shell’s graduate programme. A networking session followed with a number of current participants in the programme, giving the group a good feel for what it would be like to work for the company.

What did our students think?

Wordcloud of our students feedback
Word Cloud of our student feedback


Faroe Petroleum
Oil & Gas UK
Dana Petroleum
Shell UK



Published by

Douglas Grahame, Student Projects Manager

Douglas Grahame is Student Projects Manager at the University of Edinburgh Business School.