Petroleum Engineering Technologist

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Petroleum Engineering Technologist


It would be hard to imagine a world without oil and gas. How would we drive our cars or heat our homes? Since petroleum products have such an overwhelming impact on all of our lives, we have to be grateful to petroleum workers, notably engineering technologists. Petroleum engineering technologists are involved in the exploration and development of oil and gas fields. They help determine the best ways to get crude oil and natural gas out of the ground. Using their math, geology, science and engineering backgrounds, they strive to ensure the best drilling techniques are used to get the maximum amount of petroleum from a deposit.

Petroleum engineering technologists may work in a variety of jobs related to oil and gas production including geological studies, well operations, reservoir studies, production and environmental issues. Those focusing on geology construct subsurface maps and cross-sections from well log data, and supervising geological aspects of well site operations. Well operations technologists prepare drilling and workover programs and may supervise field operations. Technologists involved in reservoir studies calculate hydrocarbon reserves, analyze waterflood performance and other secondary recovery operations, and evaluate the economic viability of such operations.

Production petroleum technologists design equipment requirements for producing wells and field stations, and supervise field production operations. Finally, environmentalists implement and monitor safety and environmental programs, including occupational health and safety.

Petroleum engineering technologists conduct a good deal of the technical work involved in the petroleum process, from exploration to production. They work either independently or under the supervision of an engineer. Working with a petroleum engineer, the technologist looks at every aspect of production, from the size of the underground reservoir to the cost of pumping oil out of the ground. The technologist also looks for ways to streamline the process.

Petroleum engineering technologists are faced with solving practical problems daily. Accordingly, examining reserves and evaluating the economics behind an oil well is very technical work. Once the drilling begins, they must continually adjust procedures to maximize quality, quantity and speed. If a well explodes, shuts down or a problem slows production, they must help to find a solution. Since delays and catastrophes can cost a company thousands of dollars an hour, rapid problem solving is crucial. They must think and act fast. Alternatively, speeding up or optimizing production in a well can save a company hundreds of thousands of dollars, so any progress the technologist makes can be very rewarding.

Some petroleum engineering technologists work on offshore vessels and travel internationally. Many technologists love this aspect of the job. Those who work overseas face some unique challenges because they must apply their technical knowledge in places where the culture, climate or setting is very different, such as tundra, desert or subsea drilling.
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  Interests and Skills  
Petroleum engineering technologists should have strong math, physics and chemistry skills. They must be able to solve complex and stressful problems, think quickly and make decisions just as fast. They have the ability to work independently on the computer, doing design work as well as working in teams on site at oil drilling sites on offshore rigs. Petroleum engineering technologists require excellent communication skills as they deal with a variety of people on a daily basis. Also, they must enjoy traveling and working away from home for extended periods of time.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Direct the work required in assembling the mechanical and electrical testing instruments used at a well site
  • Measure and record pressures, temperatures and flow rates at production facilities
  • Design and supervise mud systems or well completions
  • Specify surface equipment and supervise their installation
  • Specify artificial lift systems for different well conditions
  • Calculate well productivity, hydrocarbon reserves and the economic viability of various projects and procedures
  • Make recommendations regarding processing techniques and implement or monitor corrosion inhibition programs
  • Perform reservoir surveillance and testing
  • Prepare and implement drilling programs
  • Evaluate land sales or lease expirations
  • Determine zones on a well for testing and coring operations
  • Analyze production well tests
  • Specify pipeline/flowline systems and supervise their installation
  • Submit progress reports and managing budgets to engineers
  • Petroleum engineering technologists work at well sites, in field offices and in head offices. At a well site, they may work outdoors in all weather conditions, and may work shifts, including evenings and weekends. Also, they may be working in remote locations, therefore they could work for many days straight and then take the same amount of days off. In offices, they use computers for data compilation and analysis. Office work generally follows standard work hours.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • The majority of petroleum engineering technologists work on-site at locations where oil and gas are found. Petroleum engineering technologists may work overseas in the major oil producing countries and regions around the world like the Middle East.
  • Employment opportunities are available with major oil companies, smaller, independent oil exploration, production and service companies, well logging or testing companies and engineering consulting firms. Others work for government agencies and research or educational institutions. Some petroleum engineering technologists have their own consulting businesses or work in financial institutions that purchase oil and gas.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Opportunities for advancement as a petroleum engineering technologist include becoming a team leader, supervisor or manager in the petroleum field. With further education, they can become petroleum engineers and teach at the postsecondary level.

  Educational Paths  
Petroleum engineering technologists require the completion of a two- or three-year college program in petroleum engineering technology or a closely related discipline. Certification in petroleum engineering technology or in a related field is available through associations of engineering technologists and technicians and may be required by employers. A two-year period of supervised work experience is required before certification as a petroleum engineering technologist.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition,
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002,

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