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Fundamentals of Petroleum Engineering: OVERVIEW OF PETROLEUM ENGINEERING. CONTENTS Petroleum Engineering. Overview. Preparation. Day in the Life. Earnings. Employment. Career Path Forecast. Conclusion. 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. OVERVIEW 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. OVERVIEW (CONTINUED..) 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. PREPARATION 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 technology. PREPARATION (CONTINUED..) 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 common. EARNINGS 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. EMPLOYMENT 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 been explored. 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. CONCLUSION. 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.
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