•MOST PROMISING Scientist - Master’s •
Perdido Development Geophysicist
Shell Exploration and Production Company
Shell Oil Company
M.S., Geophysics, University of Houston
M.S., Petroleum Geosciences(Transferred), The Petroleum Institute, Abu Dhabi, UAE
B.S., Geophysical Engineering, Universidad Simon Bolivar, Venezuela
Conducting scientific experiments with his brother are among Alberto Bernaez’s most cherished childhood memories. Growing up together in Venezuela, they made their own shampoo, built electrical circuits with small light bulbs, and ruined the wall plaster in their home to explore its properties. Raised by his mother, a surgeon and professor; his aunt, a retired mathematics professor; and his grandmother, they were quietly encouraged to pursue those experiments, and Alberto credits that with shaping his love of education.
That hunger for knowledge convinced Mr. Bernaez to aim for a geophysics career in Venezuela’s prominent petroleum industry, which led to his current position at Shell as a geophysicist for the Perdidofloating production platform, Shell’s signature project in the Gulf of Mexico extracting oil from challenging wells beneath 8,000 feet of water.
Bright, ambitious and knowledgeable, Mr. Bernaez had all the qualities that Shell looks for, including the ability to find creative ways to improve seismic data and reservoir mapping, a skill at planning drilling targets and trajectories that achieve optimum production, and a focus on finding solutions that improve a project’s profitability.
While earning his B.S. degree at the Universidad Simon Bolivar in Caracas, Mr. Bernaez won a geophysics internship with Petroleos De Venezuela. With industry careers increasingly reserved for supporters of the country’s controversial political regime, however, he knew that he had to leave to fulfill his dreams.
After spending five months in Denver to learn English, his next stop was The Petroleum Institute in Abu Dhabi, UAE, where Mr. Bernaez studied for his master’s degree in petroleum geoscience while working as a research and teaching assistant. He later transferred to the University of Houston.
A summer internship at Halliburton was so successful that they retained him as a part-time geophysicist until he was took a highly prized internship with Shell.
In 2015, the Shell internship turned into a job as a junior reservoir geophysicist in the Glider and Brutus fields. Mr. Bernaez then advanced to the Auger Andros basin near-field exploration project and added greater responsibilities in the Llano field as well. He cut costs by $7 million and added $12 million to the value of the Llano investment, and he was soon promoted to the Perdido project.
Mr. Bernaez feels fortunate to have found a welcoming place in an industry not historically friendly to alternative lifestyles. “Some places in the oil and gas industry can be a challenge for a gay man, but I feel comfortable within Shell,” he explains. He reciprocates by volunteering as the communications chairperson of Shell’s vibrant LGBQT employee resource group. He is active in the Shell Hispanic Employee Network as well, and he’s served on the board of the Southeastern Geophysical Society, and co-organized the Geophysics Network’s monthly meeting for deep-water professionals working in the Gulf of Mexico.
A strong advocate for STEM, Alberto volunteers as a speaker to introduce elementary and high school students to the energy industry. He also provides financial support to his alma matter, Universidad Simon Bolivar, enabling the Earth Sciences Department to continue working.