petroleum engineers by assal1981


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									            Petroleum Engineering Overview
  Overview - The Field - Preparation - Day in the Life - Earnings -
 Employment - Career Path Forecast - Professional Organizations

Petroleum engineers search the world for reservoirs
containing oil or natural gas. Once these resources are
discovered, petroleum engineers work with geologists and
other specialists to understand the geologic formation and
properties of the rock containing the reservoir, determine the
drilling methods to be used, and monitor drilling and
production operations. They design equipment and processes
to achieve the maximum profitable recovery of oil and gas.
Petroleum engineers rely heavily on computer models to
simulate reservoir performance using different recovery techniques. They also use computer
models for simulations of the effects of various drilling options.

Because only a small proportion of oil and gas in a reservoir will flow out under natural forces,
petroleum engineers develop and use various enhanced recovery methods. These include
injecting water, chemicals, gases, or steam into an oil reservoir to force out more of the oil, and
computer-controlled drilling or fracturing to connect a larger area of a reservoir to a single well.
Because even the best techniques in use today recover only a portion of the oil and gas in a
reservoir, petroleum engineers research and develop technology and methods to increase
recovery and lower the cost of drilling and production operations.

The Field
The word petroleum generally refers to crude oil or the refined products obtained from the
processing of crude oil (gasoline, diesel fuel, heating oil, etc.) We
find petroleum products in every area of our lives. They are easily
recognized in the gasoline we use to fuel our cars and the heating
oil we use to warm our homes. Less obvious are the uses of
petroleum-based components of plastics, medicines, food items,
and a host of other products.

The United States consumes over 20 million barrels (840 million
gallons) of petroleum products each day, almost half of it in the
form of gasoline used in over 200 million motor vehicles with
combined travel over 7 billion miles per day.

                                    "Petroleum Engineering Overview"
           Prepared as part of the Sloan Career Cornerstone Center (
Gasoline is made from crude oil, which was formed from the remains of tiny aquatic plants and
animals that lived hundreds of millions of years ago. These remains were covered with layers
of sediment, which over millions of years of extreme pressure and high temperatures became
the mix of liquid hydrocarbons (an organic chemical compound of hydrogen and carbon) that
we know as crude oil. Because crude oil is made up of a mixture of hydrocarbons, refineries
break down these hydrocarbons into different products. These "refined products" include
gasoline, diesel fuel, heating oil, jet fuel, liquefied petroleum gases, residual fuel oil, and many
other products.

   Refining Basics
The most basic refining process is aimed at separating the
crude oil into its various components. Crude oil is heated and
put into a still -- a distillation column -- and different
hydrocarbon components boil off and can be recovered as
they condense at different temperatures. Additional processing
follows crude distillation, changing the molecular structure of
the input with chemical reactions, some through variations in
heat and pressure, some in the presence of a catalyst, a
substance that increases the rate of a chemical reaction without being consumed in the

The characteristics of the gasoline produced depend on the type of crude oil that is used and
the setup of the refinery at which it is produced. Gasoline characteristics are also impacted by
other ingredients that may be blended into it, such as ethanol. The performance of the gasoline
must meet industry standards and environmental regulations that may depend on location.

After crude oil is refined into gasoline and other petroleum
products, the products must be distributed to consumers. The
majority of gasoline is shipped first by pipeline to storage
terminals near consuming areas, and then loaded into trucks
for delivery to individual gas stations. Gasoline and other
products are sent through shared pipelines in "batches." Since
these batches are not physically separated in the pipeline,
some mixing or "commingling" of products occurs. This is why
the quality of the gasoline and other products must be tested as they enter and leave the
pipeline to make sure they meet appropriate specifications. Whenever the product fails to meet
local, state, or federal product specifications, it must be removed and trucked back to a refinery
for further processing.

After shipment through the pipeline, gasoline is typically held in bulk storage terminals that
often service many companies. At these terminals the gasoline is loaded into tanker trucks
destined for various retail gas stations. The tanks in these trucks, which can typically hold up to
10,000 gallons, usually have several compartments, enabling them to transport different
grades of gasoline or petroleum products. The truck tank is where the special additive
packages of gasoline retailers get blended into the gasoline to differentiate one brand from
another. In some areas, ethanol may be "splash blended" in the tanker to meet environmental
requirements. When the tanker truck reaches a gas station, the truck operator unloads each
grade of gasoline into the appropriate underground tanks at the station.

                                    "Petroleum Engineering Overview"
           Prepared as part of the Sloan Career Cornerstone Center (
   Oil Sources
Crude oil is a smelly, yellow-to-black liquid and is usually found in underground areas called
reservoirs. Scientists and engineers explore a chosen area by studying rock samples from the
earth. Measurements are taken, and, if the site seems promising, drilling begins. Above the
hole, a structure called a 'derrick' is built to house the tools and pipes going into the well. When
finished, the drilled well will bring a steady flow
of oil to the surface.

The world's top five crude oil-producing
countries are: Saudi Arabia, Russia, United
States, Iran, and China. Over one-fourth of the
crude oil produced in the United States is
produced offshore in the Gulf of Mexico. The
top crude oil-producing states are: Texas,
Alaska, California, Louisiana, and New Mexico.
Note: Some resources and graphics in "The Field" section are provided by the Energy Information Administration (

A bachelor's degree in engineering is required for almost all entry-level engineering jobs.

   Admission Requirements
Admissions requirements for undergraduate engineering schools
include a solid background in mathematics (algebra, geometry,
trigonometry, and calculus) and science (biology, chemistry, and
physics), and courses in English, social studies, humanities, and
computer and information technology.

Internships and Coops provide students with a great opportunity to
gain real-world experience while still in school. Many universities
offer co-op and internship programs for students studying
Petroleum Engineering. This provides students with first hand
experience in the industry and the opportunity to contribute to a
real-world program or project.

   Courses of Study
Bachelor's degree programs in engineering typically are designed to last 4 years, but many
students find that it takes between 4 and 5 years to complete their studies. In a typical 4-year
college curriculum, the first 2 years are spent studying mathematics, basic sciences,
introductory engineering, humanities, and social sciences.
Petroleum engineering students may also take courses such
as Reservoir Petrophysics, Petroleum Engineering Systems,
and Physical Geology during these years. In the last 2 years, a
petroleum engineering program might include courses in
Drilling and Production Systems, Geostatistics, Well
Performance, Reservoir Fluids, Petroleum Project Evaluation,
Engineering Ethics, and Well Completion and Stimulation.

                                        "Petroleum Engineering Overview"
               Prepared as part of the Sloan Career Cornerstone Center (
   Accredited Programs
Those interested in a career in petroleum engineering should consider reviewing engineering
programs that are accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc.
(ABET). ABET accreditation is based on an evaluation of an engineering program's student
achievement, program improvement, faculty, curricular content, facilities, and institutional
commitment. The following is a partial list of universities offering accredited degree programs
in petroleum engineering.

The following is a current list of universities offering degree programs in Petroleum

   •   University of Alaska Fairbanks                •   New Mexico Institute of Mining and
   •   Colorado School of Mines                          Technology
   •   The University of Kansas                      •   The University of Oklahoma
   •   University of Louisiana at Lafayette          •   Pennsylvania State University
   •   Louisiana State University and A&M College    •   Texas A & M University
   •   Marietta College                              •   University of Texas at Austin
   •   Missouri University of Science and            •   Texas Tech University
       Technology                                    •   The University of Tulsa
   •   Montana Tech of the University of Montana     •   West Virginia University

Day in the Life
A degree in petroleum engineering can lead to many career
paths. While most work directly for oil and gas production
companies, the options for work are broad and cross over
many industries.

  Job Duties
Petroleum engineers focus on a wide range of projects and
activities. Some focus on production challenges, identifying,
testing, and implementing methods for improving oil and gas production. They might focus on
economics, helping a team determine the optimum number of wells appropriate for a given
operation. A petroleum engineer may focus on safety issues, or
maintenance support, identifying and planning upgrades of equipment
or systems. A petroleum engineer may choose to teach, or to serve as
a consultant to investors, banks, or other financial services firms.

   The Workplace
The type of job a petroleum engineer has will often determine whether
how much they work inside or outside. Many petroleum engineers work
on job sites, but others work in an office setting. A consultant to the
financial industry, for example, may spend most of their time working in
an office setting. There are strong international travel opportunities for
petroleum engineers, as it is very much a global business. Many
companies have offices and sites in multiple countries and transfers are

                                     "Petroleum Engineering Overview"
            Prepared as part of the Sloan Career Cornerstone Center (
   Teams and Coworkers
Almost all jobs in engineering require some sort of interaction with coworkers. For example, a
petroleum engineer might be working on a team with geologists and contractors developing a
design for a new drilling operation. Whether they are working in a team situation, or just asking
for advice, most engineers have to have the ability to communicate and work with other
people. Engineers should be creative, inquisitive, analytical, and detail-oriented. They should
be able to work as part of a team and to communicate well, both orally and in writing.
Communication abilities are important because engineers often interact with specialists in a
wide range of fields outside engineering.

Earnings for engineers vary significantly by specialty, industry,
and education. Even so, as a group, engineers earn some of
the highest average starting salaries among those holding
bachelor's degrees.

  Salary Data
According the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor
Statistics, the median income for petroleum engineers is
$98,380. In terms of starting salaries, the average starting salary for petroleum engineers who
have earned a Bachelor's degree is $60,718. According to a recent salary survey by the
National Association of Colleges and Employers, bachelor's degree candidates in petroleum
engineering received starting salary offers averaging $62,236 a year. They are among the
highest paid engineers.

  SPE Salary Survey
The Society of Petroleum Engineers conducts a global salary survey of members. For the most
recent survey (2007), the average base salary of respondents worldwide was $122,458, an
increase from the USD 116,834 in the 2006 survey. Additional compensation, such as
bonuses, housing allowances, car allowances, and retirement contributions raised total
average compensation for 2007 to $167,712. Not surprisingly, the average income increased
with years of work experience.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, petroleum engineers hold about 17,000 jobs
in the United States. This represents 1.1% of the 1.5 million jobs held by engineers in the U.S.
Petroleum engineers work mostly in oil and gas extraction, professional, scientific and
technical services, and petroleum refining. Employers include major oil companies and
hundreds of smaller, independent oil exploration, production, research institutes, and service

Most petroleum engineers work where oil and gas are found. Large numbers are employed in
Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Alaska, and California, including offshore sites. Many American
petroleum engineers also work overseas in oil-producing countries.

                                    "Petroleum Engineering Overview"
           Prepared as part of the Sloan Career Cornerstone Center (
The following is a partial list of employers of petroleum engineers:

         Oil/Gas Producing Companies and           U.S. Federal Government
         Equipment Manufacturers
                                                       •   U.S. Bureau of Land Management
            •   Amerada Hess Corp.                     •   U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard
            •   Anadarko Petroleum Corp.                   Investigation Board
            •   Apache Corp.                           •   U.S. Department of Energy
            •   BP plc                                 •   U.S. DOE Fossil Energy Program
            •   Burlington Resources Inc.              •   U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
            •   Cabot Oil & Gas Corp.                  •   U.S. Department of the Interior -
            •   Callon Petroleum Co.                       Offshore Minerals Management
            •   Canadian 88 Energy Corp.               •   U.S. Geological Survey
            •   Canadian Natural Resources Ltd.
            •   Chesapeake Energy Corp.            Research Institutes
            •   Chevron Corp.
            •   Citation Oil & Gas Corp.               •   Argonne National Laboratory
            •   CMS Energy Corp.                       •   Brookhaven National Laboratory
            •   ConocoPhillips Co.                     •   Idaho National Engineering and
            •   Denbury Resources Inc.                     Environmental Laboratory
            •   Devon Energy Corp.                     •   Lawrence Berkeley National
            •   Eagle Plains Resources Ltd.                Laboratory
            •   El Paso Corp.                          •   Los Alamos National Laboratory
            •   ENI SpA                                •   Natural Gas and Oil Technology
            •   Energen Corp.                              Partnership
            •   EOG Resources Inc.                     •   Oak Ridge National Laboratory
            •   Equitable Resources                    •   Sandia National Laboratory
            •   ExxonMobil Corp.                       •   U.S. National Energy Research
                                                           Scientific Computing Center
            •   Forest Oil Corp.
                                                       •   International Research Institutes
            •   Halliburton
            •   Houston Exploration Co.
            •   Kerr-McGee Corp.                   Other Employers
            •   Koch Industries Inc.
            •   Marathon Oil Corp.                     •   Consulting Firms
            •   Murphy Oil Corp.                       •   Professional Associations
            •   Newfield Exploration Co.               •   Colleges and Universities
            •   Occidental Petroleum Corp.             •   Environmental Groups
            •   Petro-Canada                           •   State Agencies such as Arkansas Oil
            •   Pioneer Natural Resources Co.              and Gas Commission
            •   Shell                                  •   State Geological Surveys such as the
                                                           Colorado Geological Survey
            •   Stone Energy Corp.
            •   Swift Energy Co.
            •   Unocal Corp.
            •   Vintage Petroleum Inc.
            •   XTO Energy

                                   "Petroleum Engineering Overview"
          Prepared as part of the Sloan Career Cornerstone Center (
Career Path Forecast
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor
Statistics, petroleum engineers are expected to have 5 percent
employment growth over the projections decade of 2006-2016,
more slowly than the average for all occupations. Even though
most of the potential petroleum-producing areas in the United
States already have been explored, petroleum engineers will
increasingly be needed to develop new methods of extracting
more resources from existing sources. Favorable opportunities
are expected for petroleum engineers because the number of
job openings is likely to exceed the relatively small number of graduates. Petroleum engineers
work around the world and, in fact, the best employment opportunities may include some work
in other countries.

Professional Organizations
Professional organizations and associations provide a wide
range of resources for planning and navigating a career in
Petroleum Engineering. These groups can play a key role in
your development and keep you abreast of what is happening in
your industry. Associations promote the interests of their
members and provide a network of contacts that can help you
find jobs and move your career forward. They can offer a variety
of services including job referral services, continuing education
courses, insurance, travel benefits, periodicals, and meeting
and conference opportunities. A broader list of professional associations is also available at

        American Association of Petroleum Geologists (
        American Gas Association (
        American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers
        American Petroleum Institute (
        Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (
        Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration (
        Society of Petroleum Engineers (

                                    "Petroleum Engineering Overview"
           Prepared as part of the Sloan Career Cornerstone Center (

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