Fundamentals of Petroleum Engineering:
OVERVIEW OF PETROLEUM ENGINEERING.
Day in the Life.
Career Path Forecast.
WHAT IS PETROLEUM ENGINEERING?
An engineering discipline concerned with the
activities related to the production
of hydrocarbons, which can be either crude oil
or natural gas.
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.
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
A bachelor's degree in engineering is required for
almost all entry-level engineering jobs.
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
Bachelor's degree programs in engineering typically are
designed to last 4 years.
In a typical 4-year college curriculum, the first 2 years are spent
studying mathematics, basic sciences, introductory
engineering, humanities, social sciences, Reservoir
Petrophysics, Petroleum Engineering Systems, and Physical
Geology during these years.
In the last 2 years, a petroleum engineering program include
courses in Drilling and Production Systems, Geostatistics, Well
Performance, Reservoir Fluids, Petroleum Project Evaluation,
Engineering Ethics, and Well Completion and Stimulation.
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. 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.
DAY IN THE LIFE (CONTINUED)
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.
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
According to a 2005 salary survey by the National
Association of Colleges and Employers, bachelor's
degree candidates in petroleum engineering received
starting salary offers averaging $61,516 a year. They
are among the highest paid engineers.
The Society of Petroleum Engineers conducts a global
salary survey of members. For the most recent survey
(2004), worldwide, respondents (all ages, education
levels, and years in the field) reported an average
income of $101,634.
Petroleum engineers, held about 16,000 jobs in
2004, 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 companies. Most petroleum engineers
work where oil and gas are found. Large numbers
are employed in Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma,
Alaska, and California, and many work overseas in
other oil-producing countries.
CAREER PATH FORECAST.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor
Statistics, petroleum engineers are expected to have a decline in
employment through 2014 because most of the potential petroleum-
producing areas in the United States and the world already have
Even so, favorable opportunities are expected for petroleum
engineers because the number of job openings is likely to exceed the
relatively small number of graduates.
All job openings should result from the need to replace petroleum
engineers who transfer to other occupations or leave the labor force.
Petroleum engineers work around the world and, in fact, the best
employment opportunities may be in other countries.
Petroleum Engineering is key to discovering
new deposits around the world and help add to
the global energy reserves well into the future.
Petroleum Engineering is also the key to
producing cleaner and safer fuels for home
heating, transportation and air travel.