Petroleum Engineering

What Is a Petroleum Engineering Degree?

The world’s dependencies upon petroleum, yet petroleum’s negative impact on the environment, pose special problems in need of resolve for petroleum engineers. Petroleum engineers are tasked with all aspects of oil and gasoline production. They must work with others to find ways to locate extract and manufacture petroleum in a cost-effective and environmentally friendly manner.

Petroleum engineers work with geoscientists, interpreting data to locate viable sources of hydrocarbon ready for extraction. Petroleum engineers also design many parts of the equipment used to extract the hydrocarbon, as well as supervise well-site personnel and train workers accordingly. All of these, and many more, duties of the petroleum engineer are important to the safe production of the hydrocarbon, a critical resource in nearly every nation.

The fuel and oil petroleum engineers are tasked with producing are used as energy sources in several applications. Many societies rely upon fuel and oil as one primary resource for transportation and daily living needs. This energy resource does not come without consequence, however. Extracting, producing and using petroleum is exceedingly harmful to the environment, and petroleum engineers must keep petroleum’s carbon footprint at the forefront of all engineering practise.

Students with strong mathematical, analytical and critical-thinking skills are well suited for a petroleum engineer degree. Earning this degree adequately prepares students to enter into a competitive field that is a leader in innovative and environmental science.

Job Opportunities

Graduating petroleum engineers have four different areas of the science in which they may work. They may become petroleum geologists, reservoir engineers, production engineers or drilling engineers.

Petroleum geologists conduct studies and analyse the data to find pockets of hydrocarbon eligible for extraction within the earth’s surface. They are treasure hunters, if you will, looking for hydrocarbon gold.

Reservoir engineers determine the best areas to place the oil wells and the best method of recovery using those wells once the petroleum is located. Reservoir engineers are also responsible for assessing any risks associated with drilling in the designated areas.

Production engineers take a hands-on role, managing the interface between the pocket of earth where the hydrocarbon sits and the equipment used to extract it. Production engineers also manage the separation processes from water required when mining natural gas and oil.

Finally, drilling engineers manage the drills. The machines are highly complex and the drilling engineer must understand all technical aspects behind the operation of this machinery and how it interacts within the earth during the drilling process.

The petroleum engineer’s job is a lucrative one, with experienced independent contractors capable of earning as much as £1,000 or more per day. Starting petroleum engineers can earn anywhere from £29,000 to £36,500. This salary range grows with experience to £52,000 to £95,000. A PhD will earn students an even higher starting salary.

Petroleum Engineering Curriculum

Petroleum engineering curriculum has a primary focus on the engineering sciences overall, with a secondary focus on environmental sustainability. As with all engineering curriculum, working towards this degree will require complex studies in engineering, mathematics, research and analyses. Petroleum engineering students also study geology and earth sciences. Students will benefit from coursework conducted in the classroom and laboratory environments, as well as studies out in the field.

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