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Reservoir Engineering Technician


Description

Oil and gas deposits are stored naturally in reservoirs all over the Earth's surface. Some regions of the world are blessed with petroleum reservoirs, such as the Middle East, Texas and Alberta. There are also a number of oil reserves in the middle of the ocean, deep underground, that have yet to be tapped into. Reservoir engineering technicians work with reservoir engineers in search of oil and gas reservoirs beneath the Earth's surface. They study the boundaries of reservoirs and determine commercial production feasibility.

Reservoir engineering technicians are involved in the technical aspects of petroleum exploration and development. They support technologists and engineers, helping to determine the best ways to get crude oil and natural gas out of the ground. Using principles of math, geology and engineering, they strive to ensure the best drilling techniques are used to get the maximum amount of petroleum from a reserve.

Reservoir technicians help evaluate the efficiency of oil and gas wells. They look at the characteristics of a petroleum reservoir, available technology and company finances to create forecasts, economic analyses, and plans for the future. The reservoir technician works with a team, under the guidance of an engineer, to interpret data from oil wells. Understanding the implications of raw data from the field helps ensure the oil well is operating safely and at maximum efficiency. It also optimizes a company's profits.

Depending on where and whom they work for, reservoir engineering technicians might construct subsurface maps and cross-sections from well log data, prepare drilling and workover programs or even supervise field operations. Technicians help calculate hydrocarbon reserves, analyze waterflood performance and evaluate the economic viability of such operations. Some also concern parts of their work on the environment, implementing and monitoring safety and environmental programs.

Reservoir engineering technicians conduct the majority of technical work involved in the petroleum process, from any step in the research, extraction and production process. They work under the supervision of an engineer, but with experience, will be able to operate independently. The technician looks at every aspect of production, from the size of the underground reservoir to the cost of pumping oil out of the ground.

Some reservoir engineering technicians work on offshore vessels and travel internationally. Many really like 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  
Reservoir engineering technicians should have strong math, science and engineering skills. They must be able to solve complex and stressful problems, think quickly and make decisions just as fast. Those with experience will 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. Reservoir engineering technicians 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  
  • Carry out the instructions of the reservoir or petroleum engineer
  • Maintain machines and equipment and determine when new ones are needed
  • Ensure that operations meet strict safety and environmental standards
  • Test the quality of petroleum reserve products and record results in a log book
  • Write reports about the location of petroleum reservoirs and draw charts and diagrams
  • May set up and operate laboratory equipment
  • May work out how much the work will cost
  • May monitor gases and chemicals sent out into the environment
  • Reservoir engineering technicians 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 or on the sea, therefore they could work for many days straight and then take the same amount of days off. In offices, the hours are fairly standard.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • The majority of reservoir engineering technicians work on-site at locations where oil and gas are found. Reservoir technicians 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. Some also work for government agencies and research or educational institutions.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Opportunities for advancement as a reservoir engineering technician include becoming a team leader, supervisor or manager in the reservoir petroleum field. With further education, they can become petroleum technologists, reservoir engineers and even teach at the postsecondary level. Advancement potentials are also available overseas.
 

  Educational Paths  
Reservoir engineering technicians usually require completion of a one- or two-year college program in petroleum or reservoir engineering technology. Certification in reservoir engineering technology or in a related field is available through associations of engineering technicians and may be required by some employers. Usually, a two-year period of supervised work experience is required before certification as a reservoir engineering technician.
 

Sources:
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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