Types of Petroleum Engineers

petroleum.engineer.003.jpgThere’s no discipline more essential to the oil and gas industry than petroleum engineering. Without petroleum engineers, oil would not be found in the first place, and even if it was, there would be no one to determine how to get it out of the ground and what to do with it next.

But did you know that a petroleum engineer must be able to transition into different disciplines, sometimes several, all at the same time? A petroleum engineer must know how to work as a reservoir engineer, a drilling engineer, a production engineer, and more. Come check out the different types of petroleum engineering fields.

Natural gas engineer

A natural gas engineer is the sub discipline of petroleum engineering who knows how to develop to natural gas resources. Natural gas as a primary source of energy is becoming more popular as it can be found in abundance and burns much cleaner than other sources like coal.

In fact, the EPA itself has even stated that because of the increased use of natural gas, carbon emissions in the US are at their lowest level in 20 years. Natural gas is used to fire power plants and even to power bus fleets like those used by the city of Los Angeles.

Drilling engineer

One common misconception about the drilling engineer is that he is charge of drilling the well and nothing more. The truth is that a drilling engineer is responsible for much more than that. A drilling engineer develops, plans, and supervises most all operations in the drilling process. This means involvement in the early stages like initial design as well as testing, completion, and all the way through to abandonment.

For example, in the planning phase a drilling engineer is involved in estimating the value of oil and natural gas reserves. He is responsible for estimating the cost of accessing them, acquiring necessary leases, doing a geological survey, even designing a well-bore plan.

Drilling engineers work on and off-site, spending as much time in the field as they do in the office. Well locations can be both on and offshore and the drilling engineer can be employed by a drilling contractor or even the oil company itself.

IEEE Standards Collection: Petroleum and Chemical Applications

Drilling engineers can be categorized as:

-Completions Engineer
-Workover Engineer
-Well Abandonment Engineer
-Deepwater Drilling Engineer

Production engineer

When it comes to choosing the equipment used in a drilling operation, it’s up to the production engineer to decide exactly how the well will produce after it is drilled. The production engineer coordinates installation, maintenance and the operation of the mining and oilfield equipment.

A production engineer’s job isn’t done yet. He oversees the well even after it has begun producing to make sure it maintains both production and financial viability. He also makes decisions on modification and maximization of efficiency in the process of oil and gas recovery.

Like a drilling engineer, the production engineer works both offsite and on.

Reservoir engineer

The reservoir engineer, as his title insinuates, is responsible for the assessment of oil and gas deposits. The reservoir engineer is the one who determines what amount of oil and gas deposits may be available in any deposit, an integral part of determining whether or not a well is viable.

Deposits in a reservoir are not visible to the naked eye, therefore a reservoir engineer must employ other methods to determine their size. The reservoir engineer must work closely with geologists and geophysicists to discover oil and gas deposits through the laws of physics and chemistry.

Once a reservoir is discovered, it’s also the reservoir engineer’s responsibility the economic viability of extracting the materials. If a well is determined viable, it is then the reservoir engineer’s job to keep tabs on exactly how much more can be produced from that well site.

Different types of reservoir engineers include:

-Surveillance engineer
-Production engineer
-Geothermal engineer


Fundamentals of Drilling Engineering     Applied Petroleum Reservoir Engineering, 3rd Edition     Petroleum Production Engineering: A Computer-Assisted Approach     Thermodynamics: Applications in Chemical Engineering and the Petroleum Industry