Career in Petroleum Engineering


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Petroleum Engineering is a booming field and has attracted significant attention from students worldwide for various opportunities such as excellent job prospects, high salaries, steady growth etc. This article explains everything you need to know about Petroleum Engineering and the following topics are discussed in-depth.

  • What is Petroleum Engineering?
  • How can one pursue a career in Petroleum Engineering?
  • Scope in India and Abroad
  • Petroleum Engineering colleges in India and Abroad
  • Useful links

What is Petroleum Engineering all about?

Petroleum Engineering deals with the study, exploration, extraction and distribution of oil and natural gas reserves that exists deep within the earth. Petroleum engineering can be broadly classified into two processes - upstream and downstream. Upstream processing involves a number of tasks ranging from searching for oil and gas fields deep beneath the earth and ocean floor to coming up with ways to extract the oil and gas in an economical and efficient manner without harming the environment. Downstream processing involves refining and processing the oil and natural gas obtained from upstream processing. Upon processing, purification and refinement, the products are marketed and distributed to consumers.

The foundation of Petroleum Engineering lies in the basic sciences - Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Geology. Petroleum Engineering has a lot in common with other engineering disciplines such as Chemical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Civil Engineering.

How can one pursue a career in Petroleum Engineering?

Since Petroleum Engineering overlaps significantly with other engineering disciplines such as Mechanical, Chemical and Civil engineering, students with backgrounds in these engineering disciplines are eligible to apply for further studies in Petroleum Engineering. Some students from other engineering disciplines are also encouraged to apply provided they have interest in the field and sufficient explanation for the transition.

Also, many Oil & Gas corporations hire Mechanical Engineering, Chemical Engineering and Civil Engineering undergraduate students and place them in Petroleum Engineering related jobs such as drilling, exploration of oil wells etc. So, if you are not interested in pursuing higher studies, then your other option would be to join an oil and gas company after your undergraduation.

Core courses in Petroleum Engineering includes geology for petroleum engineers, drilling technology, reservoir engineering, managerial economics, numerical and statistical methods, applied mathematics, physical chemistry, sedimentary and petroleum geology, petroleum production operations, natural gas engineering, petroleum formation evaluation, advanced numerical methods, oil and gas well testing, offshore drilling and production practices, petroleum exploration, petroleum engineering design, pipeline engineering, reservoir modeling and simulation, enhanced oil recovery techniques, industrial management, oil and gas property evaluation, economics and risk analysis.

Is this profession suitable for girls? Absolutely. However, unlike other careers where there is a healthy balance between men and women, majority of the workforce in Petroleum Engineering is made up of men. That being said, the number of women who are pursuing Petroleum Engineering as a career is steadily increasing worldwide. Also, plenty of opportunities exist in the engineering design sector of oil and gas industries. Female students can enter the design path if they are not interested in offshore jobs.

Scope in India and Abroad:

India: As of 2014, the demand for qualified and skilled petroleum engineers is strong. Apart from public corporations, various MNCs such as Shell, Schlumberger etc. hire students from prestigious universities such as the IITs and ISM. These companies pay extremely well and job growth is also very promising. Following is a list of companies (public and MNCs) that hire Indian students: ONGC, Schlumberger, GAIL, Shell, Reliance, IOCL, Cairn, Halliburton services, Essar Oil, Baker Hughes, ExxonMobil, BP, Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd and SEEPCO.

Abroad: Petroleum Engineering is flourishing in USA, UK, Canada and the UAE. Bright and qualified petroleum engineers are in great demand in these countries and the future looks great for this field in terms of increasing job opportunities and excellent salaries. If your goal is to work abroad, then your best bet would be to study abroad and then find a job in the respective country. Also, MNCs such as Schlumberger do place Indian undergraduate/graduate students abroad or give them the opportunity to work abroad.

Some of the biggest companies in the world for petroleum engineers are : Saudi Aramco, Gazprom, ExxonMobil, PetroChina, BP, Royal Dutch Shell, Pemex, Chevron, Kuwait Petroleum Corp, Schlumberger, Halliburton, Petrofac, Baker Hughes, Fluor etc.

Colleges in India and Abroad:

India: The following colleges in India offer courses in Petroleum Engineering at the undergraduate/graduate level.

  • Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad (BTech , MTech and PhD in Petroleum Engineering)
  • Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Petroleum Technology (BTech and MTech in Petroleum Engineering)
  • Maharashtra Institute of Technology, Pune (BE, ME and PhD in Petroleum Engineering)
  • Pandit Deendayal Petroleum University, Gujarat (BTech, MTech and PhD in Petroleum Engineering)
  • Academy Of Maritime Education and Training University (BE and MTech in Petroleum Engineering)
  • IIT Madras (MTech in Petroleum Engineering)
  • University of Petroleum and Energy Studies, Dehradun ( Various courses in Petroleum Engineering)
  • Aligarh Muslim University (BTech, MTech and PhD in Petroleum Engineering)

Abroad: Many universities abroad offer programs in petroleum engineering and following is a list of university resources offering such programs in several countries.

  • USA: GradSchools
  • UK: Hot Courses
  • Canada: University of Calgary, Alberta, Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, Memorial University, University of Regina and Dalhousie University.
  • Australia: University of Adelaide, University of Western Australia and Curtin University of Technology
  • UAE and other middle eastern nations: Petroleum Institute in Abu Dhabi, Texas A&M University at Qatar and Heriott-Watt University campus in Dubai, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals, King Saud University and Kuwait University.
  • Germany: Clausthal University of Technology, Freiberg University of Mining and Technology and Technical University Berlin.

Useful links:

Journals: If you are interested in reading research articles related to Petroleum Engineering, then the following sites will be of much help: Hydrocarbon Processing, Oil and Gas Journal, World Oil and SPE. ScienceDaily is a great website for articles and news in the petroleum and energy sector.

Oil & Energy Industry Updates: If you want to keep yourself up to date with the latest happenings in the oil & energy industry, look no further than the following websites: Rigzone, OPEC and Upstream Online.

Forums: For questions related to assignments, projects etc, Physics forum is the best online forum available for all fields under the realm of science and engineering. For general career queries, Quora and Reddit are helpful.

Jobs: SubseaIQ has a database of offshore oil and gas engineering and construction projects all over the world. Rigzone has a jobs board where you can post your resume and apply for jobs worldwide.

GradCafe: Are you planning to apply abroad for higher studies in Petroleum Engineering? If yes, then gradcafe is the perfect forum to engage in. At gradcafe, you have students from all over the world discussing graduate school admission results, profiles and various other things related to graduate school in the US, UK, Canada, Singapore and other countries. Edulix is also very informative with respect to graduate school admissions.