Petroleum engineers find oil and natural gas resources and plan out and oversee the process of extracting and placing the resources in storage containers. They determine the methods and equipment for drilling and supervise the workers who perform drilling. They also test samples from the reservoir and rock layers to choose the best techniques and tools. Petroleum engineers design processes and equipment to maximize the amount of profit from the extraction of oil and natural gas.Since there is only a small amount of gas and oil in reservoir that comes out due to natural forces, petroleum engineers create and use many different extraction methods such as injecting chemicals, water, steam, or gases into reservoirs to extract more oil. Petroleum engineers also research and create new methods and technology to lower drilling costs and produce more oil and natural gas.
Petroleum engineers often specialize in a specific area:
- Completions engineers decide the optimal way to finish building a well so that the oil or gas will flow up from underground.
- Drilling engineers determine the best way to drill an oil or gas well and ensure that the drilling process is safe, efficient and minimally disruptive to the environment.
- Production engineers monitor the well’s oil and gas production and figure out ways to increase the extraction amount of underperforming wells.
- Reservoir engineers study a reservoir’s characteristics and determine which methods will get the most oil or gas.
What kind of training does a petroleum engineer need?
Petroleum engineers must have at least a bachelor degree. Many have a degree in petroleum engineering and others have degrees in related fields such as mining, mechanical, or civil engineering, geology, or geophysics. Those with degrees in related fields usually have supporting coursework or minors in petroleum engineering. A master or doctorate degree is typically required for teaching or research positions. Many large companies offer formal training programs for new petroleum engineers. The demand for the development of new techniques to extract additional resources from current petroleum sources will as well drive job growth.
A career as a petroleum engineer is a great choice for individuals who have a great interest in oil and natural gas. Petroleum engineers must have talent in science and mathematics, good problem solving and logical thinking, great precision, and excellent leadership skills. They must also have good communication skills and be able to work independently or as part of a team.