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Also known as:
Natural Gas Engineer, Oil Drilling Engineer, Oil Exploration Engineer, Oil Well Engineer, Petroleum Engineer

Video transcript

The world's demand for oil and natural gas is unceasing. To find new supplies of these vital resources, we depend on petroleum engineers. They search the world for reservoirs containing oil or natural gas and work with geologists and other specialists to extract it.

This is not a simple matter of plunging a drill into the ground. First, the team develops a map of the underground and devises a drilling method, designing equipment and processes for that particular target, whether it be under a mountain, under a desert, or under the ocean.

To get the most from each reservoir, petroleum engineers also develop enhanced recovery methods such as injecting water, steam, chemicals, or gases into the reservoir to force out the oil and natural gas.

Computer modeling is often used to explore drilling and extraction options and techniques. This is work that requires a combination of complex knowledge with a willingness to travel. The work takes you where oil and gas is found, from America's west and southwest, overseas to the Middle East, and up to the frozen north.

You might work for a major oil company, a government agency, or a small consulting firm. To begin with, you will need creative and practical problem-solving skills and the patience to work with a team on highly detailed plans.

A bachelor's degree in engineering is generally required. Two- or 4-year technology programs may lead to similar jobs, but the individual can't register as a professional engineer under the same terms as graduates with a degree in engineering.

Devise methods to improve oil and gas extraction and production and determine the need for new or modified tool designs. Oversee drilling and offer technical advice.
Critical decision making
Level of responsibilities
Job challenge and pressure to meet deadlines
Dealing and handling conflict
Competition for this position
Communication with others
Work closely with team members, clients etc.
Comfort of the work setting
Exposure to extreme environmental conditions
Exposure to job hazards
Physical demands
Daily tasks

Write technical reports for engineering and management personnel.

Interpret drilling and testing information for personnel.

Analyze data to recommend placement of wells and supplementary processes to enhance production.

Confer with scientific, engineering, and technical personnel to resolve design, research, and testing problems.

Assess costs and estimate the production capabilities and economic value of oil and gas wells, to evaluate the economic viability of potential drilling sites.

Specify and supervise well modification and stimulation programs to maximize oil and gas recovery.

Evaluate findings to develop, design, or test equipment or processes.

Coordinate activities of workers engaged in research, planning, and development.

Direct and monitor the completion and evaluation of wells, well testing, or well surveys.

Monitor production rates, and plan rework processes to improve production.

Assist engineering and other personnel to solve operating problems.

Analyzing Data or Information Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
Making Decisions and Solving Problems Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
Interacting With Computers Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
Processing Information Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
Thinking Creatively Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
Engineering and Technology Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
Mathematics Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
Physics Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub- atomic structures and processes.
Computers and Electronics Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
Chemistry Knowledge of the chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. This includes uses of chemicals and their interactions, danger signs, production techniques, and disposal methods.
Administration and Management Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
Economics and Accounting Knowledge of economic and accounting principles and practices, the financial markets, banking and the analysis and reporting of financial data.
Clerical Knowledge of administrative and clerical procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and other office procedures and terminology.
Reading Comprehension Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
Critical Thinking Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
Speaking Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Writing Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
Active Listening Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Systems Evaluation Identifying measures or indicators of system performance and the actions needed to improve or correct performance, relative to the goals of the system.
Judgment and Decision Making Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
Systems Analysis Determining how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect outcomes.