Like others involved in the oil industry, Jennifer Olsen leads a nomadic lifestyle that has taken her all across the country.
“Last year I worked in the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania. I’ve worked all through the Rockies, south of Salt Lake City and in South Dakota,” said Olson, who is a petroleum engineer and drilling consultant based in Billings. Her company is Itty Bitty Oil, LLC.
Recently, Olsen has been working in North Dakota, where the Bakken oil boom shows no sign of slowing down. But she’s also looking forward to working closer to home in 2013.
“After I’m done with the well we’re on in North Dakota, we’ll have one to drill near Sidney, the first well I’ve worked on in Montana,” Olsen said.
As a petroleum engineer, Olsen designs how a field is developed.
“I decide where to drill and put together a program on how we drill and get from Point A on the surface to Point B at the end of the horizontal,” Olsen said. “And I supervise the operation in the field. I set out when all of the contract companies come out, and make sure they do their jobs correctly.”
Once the drilling is done, Olsen moves on to the next location. The newly drilled well is completed with the arrival of fracking crews. In the hydraulic fracturing process, sand and chemicals are pumped into the well, and oil-bearing shale formations deep underground are fractured in order to stimulate oil recovery.
When she’s not drilling for oil, Olsen pursues her passion for politics. She’s the chairwoman of the Yellowstone County Republican Party. Thanks to cellphones and the Internet, she manages to keep in touch with other politically-minded folks, even when she's on a job.
She remains hopeful that Montana’s oil industry will follow North Dakota's lead. “We’re still optimistic that Gov. (Steve) Bullock will be more willing to work with us and business in general,” she said. “The oil business provides lots of good jobs.”
Describe how you got where you are in your work today:.
I attended Montana Tech once graduating from Billings West High School in 1999. I graduated in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering following in my father's footsteps. Once graduating, I went to work for a company called Computalog, a wireline tool company, whose office was in Billings. I worked for that company in Baker, gaining great experience for about six months. I then went on to work as a consultant for JAKE Oil, LLC, also in Billings as a petroleum engineer overseeing multiple employees as well as college student interns. Six years later, I began consulting for August Energy Services, which I still consult for. Currently, I am on a work schedule of two weeks on/off drilling Bakken oil wells in North Dakota.
What’s the toughest challenge that you have faced in your business?
Being one of the few women in the field.
What did you learn from that challenge?
Brains and confidence in your ability to do good work go a long way.
If you could make one positive change in Billings, what would it be?
Get more young women interested in engineering.
Aside from profit and loss, how do you measure success in your job?
Which living person do you most admire?
Besides my mother, my father.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Owning/operating my own small business.
I’m happiest when I’m…
That's a toss up. I really enjoy my time working, but that takes me away from family and friends. I also enjoy my two weeks off where I can spend it with friends and family (especially my niece and nephew). I also really enjoy my daily workouts, which include P90X and Insanity.