Crash courses on oil industry: everyman's guide to mining black gold

By , Staff correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor

If you think you've missed out on the oil boom, sign up for one of the score of crash courses touring the states rich in energy resources - but sign up early.

One of the most popular seminar leaders, petroleum geologist Norman J. Hyne, explains that his oil-industry survey course is attracting ''everyone from dentists and secretaries, to Ph.D. physicists and bank presidents, to the wives of geologists trying to find out what their husbands do.''

Increasingly, Professor Hyne also finds himself teaching ''Easterners with a lot of money. They want to invest in oil but don't know how to evaluate prospects. This course gives them the background to distinguish, by asking the right questions.''

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Wallace Resources board chairman James Reid agrees. He traveled to Houston from Washington, D.C., to attend Hyne's course and decided that ''What has taken me 15 years to pick up, I could have gotten in three days here.'' So he plans to sign up not only his securities analysts but even secretaries from his Washington office ''to familiarize them with what goes on in the oil patch.''

Dr. Hyne was surprised at the widespread interest when he started his course in 1977. What happened, he explains, was that sharply rising oil prices in the 1970s forced oil companies to step up drilling and production dramatically. This meant hiring large numbers of scientists, physicists, chemists, and computer experts, he says, ''people well trained in other disciplines but who don't know what oil is.'' Newcomers to the industry say that Hyne's course succeeds in bring them up to speed fast.

Seats for the best seminars disappear months in advance because not only outsiders but major oil companies are sending employees along for extra training.

Professor Hyne's seminar, the University of Tulsa's ''Basic Petroleum Geology for the Non-Geologist,'' is now midway through its sixth year.

Hyne sees a growing market for his and similar courses because ''As long as the incentives are there, we are going to look harder for oil and find more oil.'' More exploration, he adds, means that the industry will continue to hire and train new people.

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