What Does an Oil and Gas Engineer Do?

Oil and gas engineers work in several areas of petroleum exploration and extraction. Typically, an oil and gas engineer specializes in one area, but needs to be mindful of the entire process since the engineering and production components work together. Find out more about an oil and gas engineer's duties and job specialization options below. Schools offering Engineering & Technology Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Overview

An oil and gas engineer is involved in the process of extracting oil and natural gas from reservoirs. They may be drilling engineers, production engineers, or reservoir engineers, according to the Society of Petroleum Engineers (www.energy4me.org). In all these stages, an oil and gas engineer uses petrophysics knowledge to ensure that all drilling operations are conducted accurately and efficiently, while complying with laws and environmental standards. These engineers are team leaders and often work with other engineers, scientists, and platform laborers.

Duties and Responsibilities

Oil and gas engineers often work on offshore drilling platforms and in oil fields and reserves around the world. Some of the duties of an oil and gas engineer include:

  • Obtaining necessary licenses and permits
  • Ensuring compliance with laws and regulations
  • Determining the most productive locations
  • Taking responsibility for safety and efficiency
  • Ensuring well maintenance
  • Interpreting results
  • Ensuring efficient well flow
  • Informing clients of progress

Drilling Engineers

Drilling engineers design and supervise the drilling process unique to each petroleum deposit. These oil and gas engineers work with geologists and contractors, supervising drilling new wells.

Production Engineers

Production engineers develop new mining and drilling equipment like drill bits and valves, as well as designing new extraction processes like horizontal drilling to optimize each oil field and gas deposit. Among the duties of a production engineer is determining the procedures used to drill the wells and what equipment to use to drill in the ocean floor and on dry land.

Reservoir Engineers

Reservoir engineers assess each oil and gas deposit to determine production capacity and suitable recovery methods. An oil and gas engineer specializing in reservoirs estimates the lifelong performance of a reservoir, determines the best way to extract the natural gas and crude oil, and calculates how many wells each reservoir can safely support.

Salary Info and Job Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), the median annual salary earned by petroleum engineers was $132,320 in May 2013. The employment of such engineers is expected to grow by 26% between 2012 and 2022, per the BLS.

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