Aera’s Andy Anderson reflects on his retirement and Aera’s 25 years of operation with a look back and focus on the future
Andy Anderson graduated from Stanford University with a chemical engineering degree and a plan to work a few years to pay off student loans before going to medical school. The Northern California native was set on becoming a surgeon.
All the big oil companies were heavily recruiting — offering rewarding jobs, generous pay, and great benefits to recent graduates. Anderson accepted a production engineer position at Shell Oil in New Orleans.
That short stint turned 40-year career in the oil and gas industry ends this September with his retirement.
“Thinking back, I would have never imagined myself spending 40 years working in the oil and gas industry,” said Anderson, Aera’s senior vice president of operations who oversees Aera’s field-producing operations, drilling, and development. “But I’ve loved the work, interacting with people, solving problems and facing challenges. I understand the importance of the products we supply to society, and it’s been a rewarding career.”
A change in career plans
An assignment to design well completions for a drilling program on an offshore platform in the Gulf of Mexico tops the list of the most memorable moments of his early career.
“I remember feeling the vibration of the rig as we landed on the helipad, and then going to the rig floor to observe the logging operation. It was really exciting. I never would have thought of myself doing that when I went to college,” Anderson said.
Anderson spent the bulk of his career at Shell Oil traveling between New Orleans, Louisiana and Houston, Texas on various assignments in subsurface engineering and as a business advisor for Shell’s Midcontinent Division. In 1990, Anderson moved to Bakersfield to take on a subsurface-engineering role at the Belridge oil field, which had been acquired by Shell 10 years before. One of the reasons he wanted to move back to California was to live and raise his family close to home.
He does not regret a single moment working in an industry that provides such a benefit to humanity. He believes in the important role oil and gas has in fueling transportation, powering homes and providing necessary building blocks for so many of the everyday items we depend on.
Stepping up to the challenge
In 1997, Shell Oil and Mobil Corp. combined their California oil fields to create a new entity called Aera Energy. Anderson was given the opportunity to stay on at Shell or join the new company. He chose to join Aera and tackle a new challenge.
Anderson said the chance to join Aera came at a time when margins were very tight due to low oil prices and expensive reservoir-producing mechanisms such as steam injection and waterflooding. He knew the risks associated with leaving behind his career at Shell.
“We knew as with the most mergers, there was a lot of uncertainty and the outcome could have been much different – but I wanted to give it a shot. It ended up being the right decision. Aera has been more successful than anyone could have ever imagined,” Anderson said.
Aera is celebrating its 25th year of providing oil and gas to fuel the needs of California. It’s also embarking on a carbon capture and storage journey to help California face the new challenge of protecting this and future generations from the effects of climate change, while providing the oil and gas the state continues to need. Anderson says the next few years will be an exciting time for Aera.
Optimistic about the future
Aera’s Vice President of Services Ted Witt will take over for Anderson on September 1, 2022. Anderson knows he is leaving his role at Aera in good, capable hands.
Anderson will be rebalancing his personal life – spending more time with his wife, two adult sons, and his grandson in retirement. He looks forward to traveling and spending time in San Diego, eating great food and taking long walks in Balboa Park.
He is excited to watch Aera help lead the way but knows the journey to a new climate future won’t be easy.
“In a very different way, things are just as challenging as they were 25 years ago but that’s what makes work exciting. Aera is in it for the long run, and we have a great vision for the future. I can’t wait to see where it takes us,” he said.