Roger Edgecombe has been with RPS for almost 17 years. He was recently promoted and moved to Perth, Australia, as Director, Energy – Operations (AAP). Prior to this move, Roger was Operations Director for Technical & Advisory in Calgary, Canada.
Roger talks to us about moving country, his passion for learning and building connections, and the power of transferable skills in the energy sector. Read on to find out more.
Although trained as a geologist, I have been practicing geophysics for most of my career. After completing my M.Sc. I started my career with a small company based in southern Ontario, where I spent the first years in the field in seismic acquisition, project management and data processing. After spending way too much time in hotels in the middle of nowhere, I was fortunate to transition to the “other side of the table” and started interpreting seismic data in 2005. Initially, I was interpreting seismic data primarily as a hazard identification for potash mining, and over the last 17 years have slowly transitioned to oversight and then into management.
After 26 years of either conducting land seismic operations and data interpretation or planning and overseeing exploration projects, I am now taking on the challenge of switching focus. In Australia, our Energy business supports clients who primarily work in the marine environment, but the business is diverse and includes Health & Safety, Seismic Operations, Well Site Supervision, Site Investigations ,UXO and Geohazards.
Roger, early on in his career
Outside of spending time with my wife and daughter, my biggest passion outside work is cycling. I love spending time on my bike (I have three now, but at one point had five). If not out riding, you might find me playing golf in the summer or curling in the winter! As it happens, there's quite a bit of curling in our industry in Canada and some big rivalries!
My supervisor when I did my Masters. My technical writing skills are down to her; I learned to be critical and consistent. I like things spot on!
When I joined the industry in Calgary, the person I worked for was someone I held in high regard for business savvy, but also how he conducted himself. He was on such an even keel, back when I was a young hothead!
The stereotype that we are universally liked around the world! Also, the sense of space and the landscapes. There's definitely an element of pride; I'm certainly proud to be Canadian.
By the ocean. I grew up on an island (Prince Edward Island) and that's what got me interested in geology.
RPS has a favourable global mobility policy, supporting international moves that further employees’ careers and connect our teams.
The notion of my move goes back some 13 years. John Stanton, General Manager, Energy Services – Perth, was impressed with our Calgary business model and wanted to bring something like that into our Australian business.
Over the years, the notion of a relocation was discussed periodically, but it wasn't the right time for me to leave the Canadian business, although the possibility was always there! With the senior leadership continuing to focus on succession planning and with things picking up in the energy sector, the move became a priority.
Professionally, I've always thought that the Calgary office really represents all aspects of the subsurface expertise within RPS; often labelling ourselves as an oil company in a box, we offer exploration and development services ranging from survey design to project oversight to geology and geophysics, to all aspects of reservoir and production engineering. Conversely, based on our visit in 2019, for me, the Perth office represents a great example of everything RPS does; safety, infrastructure, and metocean, as well as all the different touchpoints of energy.
Within RPS, I'll be working closely with Gavin Pattison, Global Operations MD – Energy as well as Murray Burling, Managing Director Energy AAP.
From the family perspective, when we visited the city in 2019, we were blown away by the people and how friendly it was. We always joke that Canadians are so friendly, but we can't hold a candle to the people in Perth! As a family, we tend to eat outside as much as possible and so the outdoor lifestyle is important to us too. Growing up on an island in eastern Canada, I have always been drawn to the water. Being near the ocean, in a temperate climate, is the one of biggest things that we’re looking forward to. Oh, and not shovelling snow!
We're involved from the beginning, right to the very end, switching modes to match the lifecycle of a project – so from advisor to oversight, overseeing field operations, supplying our people for Quality Assurance and Quality Control. We also oversee data processing, then do the geology, geophysics, interpretation of the data and reporting and ultimately providing advice to our clients, whether it be where to drill or where not to mine!
In my former business unit, we take on the prime contracting role. It's very unique in how we handle contracts and interact with our clients – essentially a 'soup to nuts' , i.e. start to finish, type of service. It’s a model that’s almost unique to Canada, but will benefit our clients in Australia too.
Really, the biggest thing is the mindset of always delivering value to a client. I have always openly stated that in Canada, there are plenty of companies that shoot seismic data, but RPS is one that will spend a client's money wisely. Doing so helps maintain our strong relationships. With our Canadian potash mining clients, we've really become the face of that field. It takes a long time to build that sort of expertise and level of trust, but our team has achieved this, and this is key to good landowner and stakeholder relationships.
Transitioning into the Australian business, I'll be looking at how we can continue to be a trusted advisor across broad touchpoints in our evolving industry. RPS has the unique ability and experience of working across the life cycle of a project – and a given asset. I'm excited to think about how we can connect more dots for clients.
It's about building trust – respect for how you do the work and your work ethic. I really think I got there with peers, colleagues and clients at RPS and in Canada, which is rewarding to hear. It's obviously down to a lot of hard work and time, but I've really enjoyed building and maintaining that long-standing relationship.
We have a strong, cohesive team who knows each other's skills and which skills offset each other.We've also had some significant wins, such as when one of our clients was having an end of mine life issue. We pulled off this project in about six weeks by leveraging our relationships with the government – which came down to our reputation and the trust they had in us.
As I mentioned earlier, collecting seismic data used for planning potash mines is a big part of our business in Canada. We have a long-standing reputation as the pre-eminent consultancy in this field. Fundamentally, this is oil and gas technology being applied to a different industry.
You may look at, analyze and use the data differently, but over the last couple of years, I've spoken a lot about the idea of transferring knowledge because we've shown that it works. Globally, we're involved in geothermal, helium, lithium, carbon capture and storage – some nascent or nonconventional industries to which seismic and subsurface expertise can be applied. In Australia, going into a different part of the energy business, I'm looking at how RPS' collective knowledge can support any given client.
Regarding my Canadian role, the industry has constantly evolved, pushing towards environmental best practices or those with a low environmental impact. In terms of social aspects, I don't think people are always aware of the work the industry puts into meeting – or exceeding – regulatory standards that are defined and put in place by the government, not by the industry.
From a community engagement aspect, one of the reasons we've been successful is the way we interact. We understand that the stakeholders on a given project are our clients’ neighbours. When we've gone to work in new areas, we've tried to get local content as much as possible. There's a ripple effect from positive interaction and from engaging the community at the start of a project, to getting social license to do the work.
Hydrocarbon-based energy sources are going to be part of the ongoing energy mix, but I'm excited about the direction we're taking: helping our current client base make inroads into renewables and using those transferable skills. The application of subsurface expertise to helium, geothermal and CCS are burgeoning industries about to take off, or in the case of offshore wind in Australia, about to grow, which is really exciting for me!
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