Career Development

Opportunities in Drilling and Achieving Sustainability: Q&A With Nkechi Emmanuella Anasoh

Oando Energy Resources’ Project Manager/Team Lead of Wells and Drilling, Nkechi Emmanuella Anasoh, and TWA Editor, Maryse Jackman, discuss sustainability, the importance of soft skills, and the advancement of women in leadership roles.

A lake in the shape of the world's continents in the middle of untouched nature. A metaphor for ecological travel, conservation, climate change, global warming and the fragility of nature.3d rendering
While there are positive developments, achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement, a just transition for Africa and perhaps other developing nations require sustained commitment, collaboration, and tailored approaches that address the continent’s unique challenges and opportunities.
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Nkechi Emmanuella Anasoh

This article is based on an interview with Nkechi Emmanuella Anasoh, a project manager and team lead of wells and drilling at Oando Energy Resources. Anasoh, a 16-year veteran of the industry, holds a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Lagos and a master’s degree in petroleum engineering from Heriot-Watt University. In addition to her engineering work that focuses on sustainability, Anasoh, a mother of two, runs a business to resell children's clothing. She is also working on a podcast which will focus on sustainability and how to support green startups.

How did you decide on your petroleum engineering career path, specifically drilling?

My first degree is in chemical engineering with a thesis focus on biochemical engineering, I went on to study for a master’s degree in petroleum engineering mainly because coming from a country with vast resources, I realized the many opportunities that existed in the oil and gas industry and how it would impact the nation’s development.

I started my career as a reservoir engineer in Dubai. Petroleum drilling actually happened in my second or third year in my career. I joined a new independent company then back in Nigeria. They had a new project but no drilling engineer so I became their first drilling engineer.

What do you enjoy most about your work as a drilling project manager?

As a drilling project manager, I appreciate the dynamic nature of the work. It involves overseeing complex operations, problem-solving in real time, and managing and collaborating with various teams to ensure success. Plus, seeing a project come together from planning to execution is incredibly rewarding.

Generally speaking, being an engineer is great. It is not boring or repetitive. It involves good problem-solving and critical-thinking skills which allow me to use my imagination effectively. I have also been able to adapt and be successful over the years in the different jobs/roles. I found myself including pioneering research in my organizations as we sought them to diversify into the integrated energy company we are today.

How is technology reshaping skill profiles in the oil and gas sector in 2024 and beyond?

Technology is significantly reshaping skill profiles in the oil and gas sector. There is a demand for a mix of traditional expertise and new technical competencies. As automation, data analytics, and digitalization demand continue to rise, there’s a growing need for professional skills including data science, artificial intelligence, robotics, and cybersecurity.

Additionally, proficiency in remote monitoring and control systems, as well as advanced engineering performance optimization and geoscience applications, are becoming increasingly essential. This shift requires oil and gas workers to adapt and improve their skills to remain competitive in the evolving industry landscape.

What are the current opportunities in oil and gas drilling for women?

There are growing opportunities for women in oil and gas drilling, with companies increasingly focused on diversity and inclusion. Many organizations are actively recruiting and promoting women in roles traditionally dominated by men, including drilling engineering, project management, and field operations. As a matter of fact, I just recently recruited two female well engineers to my team.


Additionally, there are initiatives and networks specifically aimed at supporting women in the industry, providing mentorship, networking opportunities, and resources for career advancement.

How can we women inspire women to pursue these opportunities?

We can inspire other women to pursue these opportunities by sharing our own experiences, successes, and challenges in the industry. Mentoring and networking are crucial, providing guidance, support, and connections to help navigate the field. Encouraging visibility through speaking engagements, conferences, and professional organizations can also showcase the diverse talent and expertise of women, inspiring others to follow suit. Additionally, promoting education and training programs tailored to women interested in the industry, can help break down barriers and provide necessary skills and knowledge.

What are your thoughts on the progress toward achieving the COP Paris Agreement?

Progress toward achieving the COP Paris Agreement especially with a focus on a just transition for African nations has been mixed. Although I see progress in:

  • Funding commitments from international organizations and developed countries
  • Increased investments in renewable energy projects
  • Initiatives aimed at building the capacity of African governments, businesses, and communities.

I believe that challenges still remain in:

  • Accessing climate finance, despite the pledges, have persistent bureaucratic hurdles, lack of technical expertise, and perhaps very stringent funding criteria.
  • The lack of access to energy still exists for millions of people in Africa; balancing the need for energy access with climate goals remains a challenge.
  • Ensuring that the transition to a low-carbon economy is just and equitable, especially for vulnerable communities and people in the fossil fuel industries, require more attention and concrete action.

While there are positive developments, achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement, a just transition for Africa and perhaps other developing nations require sustained commitment, collaboration, and tailored approaches that address the continent’s unique challenges and opportunities.
What are your thoughts on the level of importance of the oil and gas industry focusing on sustainability in order to attract women and YPs?

Focusing on sustainability is crucial for the oil and gas industry to attract YPs and women and maintain relevance in a changing world. Many YPs are increasingly concerned about environmental and social issues. By prioritizing sustainability initiatives such as reducing carbon emissions, minimizing environmental impact, and promoting responsible resource extraction, the industry can demonstrate its commitment to addressing these concerns. This not only helps attract diverse talent but also ensures long-term viability and competitiveness in a rapidly evolving global landscape.

How will more women in the industry impact or contribute to the future of drilling and cleaner energy?

The increased participation of women in the cleaner energy sector will contribute to accelerating the transition to a sustainable energy future by:

  • Bringing a diverse perspective to the sector which further promotes innovation through problem-solving and creativity.
  • Enhanced safety culture driven by gender diversity.

In addition, women will contribute to talent pool expansion, workforce resilience resulting from a gender-inclusive workforce, fostering community engagement, shaping policy, enhancing leadership and collaboration, and empowering future generations.

We will generally see a more dynamic, safer, and resilient industry, better equipped to address the challenges and opportunities of the future.

This year’s International Women’s Day theme was “Inspire Inclusion.” What areas/aspects do you believe should be focused on to accelerate progress on gender equality?

To accelerate progress on gender equality in the energy sector, focus should be placed on:

  • Representation and leadership
  • Promote gender diversity in leadership positions
  • Invest in education, training, and mentorship programs to encourage more women to pursue careers in STEM
  • Women should receive equal pay and benefits for equal work in the energy sector, and disparities in compensation and opportunities for career advancement should be addressed
  • Work-life balance is key, and flexible work arrangements should be implemented
  • Safe and inclusive work environments that are free from harassment, discrimination, and gender-based violence should be created and a culture of respect, dignity, and equality for all should be encouraged
  • Encourage diversity and inclusion in supply chains by sourcing goods and services from women-owned businesses and enterprises supporting economic empowerment and entrepreneurship

By addressing these areas, the energy sector can accelerate progress toward achieving gender equality and creating a more inclusive, equitable, and sustainable energy future.