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 Nuclear Engineering 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.

Important Facts About This Occupation

Required Education Bachelor's degree in engineering
Licensure Required by all states if engineer works in the public sector
Professional Certification Offered by The Society of Petroleum Engineers
Key Skills Math, problem-solving, and analytical skills; creativity
Work Environment Offices or research facilities and on-site at drilling locations
Similar Occupations Geoscientist, industrial engineer, materials engineer

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:

  • Recording and updating information on all drilling activities
  • 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
  • Overlooking the the removal of all waste and equipment from drill sites

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 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), the median annual salary earned by petroleum engineers was $137,170 in May 2018. The employment of such engineers is expected to grow by 15% between 2016 and 2026, per the BLS.

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