Energy spotlight: Kirby Walker
The oil and gas business took Kirby Walker around the world before bringing him home to Western Pennsylvania.
“I can thank the Marcellus for that,” said Walker, 45, of Sewickley, a Freeport native and veteran petroleum engineer who last month went to work at Cecil-based Consol Energy Inc. as a technical adviser.
When Walker graduated from Penn State University's petroleum engineering program in 1993, drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus shale was still 11 years away, and the Pittsburgh region held few job prospects.
A job with Houston-based Schlumberger, the world's largest oilfield services company, brought Walker a decade of travel for work in Russia, Venezuela, Alaska, Texas and West Virginia.
He became a team leader in Pittsburgh in 2006 when shale drilling began to take hold here. Returning home allowed him to marry fellow Freeport native Daniell. They have two sons.
At work, he oversaw Schlumberger's microseismic monitoring program and managed hydraulic fracturing technology advances for the company here before going to Chevron Corp. for 15 months as a senior engineering adviser.
Familiar faces at Consol helped draw him to the former coal company that has become Pennsylvania's 12th-largest shale gas producer.
“The part that brought me here was the people,” Walker said, noting he met a lot of Consol employees while working at Schlumberger. “That's where it is — enjoying the people you work with.”
At Consol, Walker is working with the director of engineering and others on technical accuracy of their work, watching for new techniques or technologies and helping to mentor younger engineers.
“We're looking at: What are the processes we need to be following? How can we get there as we grow?” Walker explained.