Petroleum engineers develop and implement effective techniques for recovering, processing, and producing oil and natural gas. They apply engineering, environmental, and economic principles to ensure that exploration and development of oil and gas fields are efficient, cost effective, and environmentally safe. These engineers can specialize in drilling, reservoir management, completions, production, operations, secondary and tertiary recovery methods, and pipelines.
Imagine you are working in the field, preparing a site for the production of hydrocarbons (oil and gas). For the past few months, you have been working very closely with geoscientists to assess the quality of potential drilling locations in terms of the amount of oil available, the quality of the oil, and how far below the surface it lies. After a site has been chosen, you will determine the equipment you will need to extract the oil. You are a petroleum engineer, and you involved in almost every stage of oil and gas exploration and development.
As a petroleum engineer, you search for potential drilling locations and assess whether or not potential drilling locations will have economic value for your company. You do this by taking samples from the location and analyzing the data. After a valuable drilling site has been selected, you are then in charge of monitoring and coordinating the process of drilling to get oil to the surface. Lastly, you monitor the removal of equipment when the drilling at the location is complete. You also spend time developing ways to optimize drilling methods and researching alternative ways of hydrocarbon recovery.
The goal is to lower costs and reduce the environmental impact of operations. You are proactive by working to design and implement environmentally responsible techniques. You want to prevent oil spills that can be very damaging to the environment.
Duties vary significantly from job to job, but the following list includes typical job duties one might encounter as a petroleum engineer:
Petroleum engineers work in a variety of locations, including, but not limited to:
In the office:
In the field:
In most cases, the minimum education requirement to work as a petroleum engineer is a university undergraduate degree. The following post-secondary programs are most applicable for a career in this field:
You will need to work for two or three years as an engineer-in-training (EIT) and then write a professional practice exam. A post-graduate degree, master’s degree, or Ph.D. may be required and can improve your employment prospects and salary. To practice as a professional engineer, you must be licensed with a provincial or territorial engineering association. If you are a high school student considering a career as a petroleum engineer you should have a strong interest in:
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