Petroleum Engineer Spotlight

Petroleum Engineers are the detectives of the oil and gas world. They use all the tools at their disposal to investigate a reservoir or well. Once they have gathered the evidence, they can crack the code of optimal oil or gas production.

What a typical day looks like:

Petroleum Engineers take a proposed project concept for an oil or gas well or pipeline and help make it happen by seeing how it might be practically constructed or maintained. They work with computer programs, spreadsheets and cutting-edge software such as reservoir simulators to find the best way to extract oil and gas.

Petroleum Engineers conduct studies to explore, develop and extract oil and gas deposits. They monitor existing production rates and consider variables such as changing temperatures and pressures that occur as the well is depleted over time. Under their watch, oil or gas reaches the surface in the most cost-effective way.

Petroleum Engineers can also specialize in a particular area:

Drilling and Completion Engineers identify exactly where to (or where not to) drill a well and then design and implement drilling and completion programs.

Reservoir Engineers conduct simulation studies to determine optimal development plans for oil and gas reservoirs.

Production Engineers optimize the performance of individual oil and gas wells by designing “connections” between the reservoir and the well, evaluating artificial lift methods and developing surface equipment systems to separate oil, gas and water.

Exploitation Engineers monitor and evaluate oil and gas reservoir performance and identify, develop and oversee the implementation of techniques to improve oil and gas recovery.

Typically employed in the exploration and production (E&P), oil sands and oil and gas services sectors of the oil and gas industry, some of these jobs may require working outdoors to inspect wells or supervise drilling operations.

The kinds of problems Petroleum Engineers solve at work:

Imagine a company is drilling a well. They want the well to produce for 25 years, yet the drill casing must first pass through 200 metres of unstable soils. Petroleum Engineers will make sure the load won’t cause the casing to collapse over time. Likewise, it is common for the depressurization of the oil or gas field to cause “subsidence,” which could cause the casing to deform. As petroleum is removed from the ground, that displacement causes the ground to collapse and move rigid materials, like pipe. Petroleum Engineers might identify the need for a collapsible casing or call for a project to be relocated if ground conditions are too complex.

Skills used most on the job:

Petroleum Engineers are analytical, curious and adaptable to change. They combine their knowledge of geology, soil and rock mechanics and hydrogeology with their command of physics and other engineering principles to solve complex problems, think critically and make decisions.

Drilling, completions, testing, re-working. If it has to do with wells, Petroleum Engineers are a necessity to help maximize production.

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