Tamarris Durham


Tamarris Durham (’10)

After about 10 years in the oil field, Tamarris Durham decided to get a degree that would further his career in the field, and Nicholls turned out the be the perfect place. Our university offers unique coursework that allows those in the oil field to continue their education while working.

“So the oil field is kind of divided—you have the drilling folk, you have the production folk that produce the oil and gas after it’s drilled, and you have those folk that service the oil field,” Tamarris said. “Our program here [at Nicholls] is kind of a combination of all that. It takes a person that has no knowledge of the oil field and walks them out of the doors having knowledge of how the oil field works.”

Through his classes at Nicholls, Tamarris learned why he did what he was doing offshore and how to do it more effectively and safely. It brought a new perspective to his work, but it was more than that. Through his coursework, which eventually lead to a degree in Petroleum Engineering Technology, Tamarris was able to come into contact with industry professionals, who were his instructors and mentors. Because of the program and his involvement with the Society for Petroleum Engineers, Tamarris was able to network with people he otherwise wouldn’t have come into contact with. This eventually led him to a job at Chevron, where he was hired (and promoted) all before he even finished the program.

“Right now I work for Shell Oil,” Tamarris said. “I’m a Deep Water Regulatory Specialist. So what do now is…my job is to transfer the application to drill from the engineers at Shell to the government, The Bureau of Safety Environmental Enforcement. Prior to Macondo, a permit was about 40 pages, and now they’re about 400 pages. So I take inputs from the engineers—the engineers don’t speak in regulatory terms—and put that in a language that the government understands.”

Tamarris really has to take on several different roles and understand various forms of technical language to do his one job. As a Deep Water Regulatory Specialist, Tamarris has to mediate between the engineers and the government to make sure regulatory processes are followed and to ensure that the logistics of the operation work. He has to have a working knowledge of both the governmental and technical engineering sides.

“Nicholls is the only place where a person that works offshore can come in, go to college on your seven days off, and then go back offshore to work,” Tamarris said. “I worked seven-and-seven the whole four or five years I was at Nicholls. It’s the only place you’ll find that kind of education.”