Petroleum Pump System Operators, Refinery Operators, and Gaugers

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Also known as:
Hydrotreater Operator, Oil Gauger, Oil Pipeline Dispatcher, Oil Pipeline Operator, Oil Refiner, Petroleum Plant Operator, Petroleum Refinery Control Panel Operator, Petroleum Refinery Operator, Petroleum Refining Equipment Operator

Video transcript

An oil refinery is a type of factory where crude oil is broken down into various components, and the recombined into new products such a gasoline and jet fuel. A team of refinery technicians oversees this process. Refinery operators direct and control the continuous processes in petroleum refining. They're alerted to any glitches in the system that might require immediate repairs to avoid damage to the quality and quantity of the product.

Regulating temperature, pressure, flow-rate and tank levels in the refining units is done from within highly automated control room. The operator keeps detailed record of reading, test results and adjustments. Petroleum pump system operators control the manifold and pumping systems that circulate the liquids through the refinery. This operator monitors and maintains the system to keep the fluid products moving through this massive maze of pipelines and chambers.

Gaugers measure and test the oil in storage tanks at refineries and other petroleum company facilities. They monitor controls to regulate the flow of oil into pipelines. The work in a refinery is not necessarily physically demanding, but it is exacting and extremely detail-oriented. Many refinery employers prefer job applicants to have some college or other experience in areas such as industrial machinery operations, engineering or chemistry and math, especially for those on track to become refinery operators.

There's also a great deal of on-the-job training required for any of these positions. Increasing automation is shrinking the number of available jobs in this field. A ready supply of oil is crucial to our economy and our lifestyle. Refineries operate round the clock, every day of the year, to keep us fueled.

Operate or control petroleum refining or processing units. May specialize in controlling manifold and pumping systems, gauging or testing oil in storage tanks, or regulating the flow of oil into pipelines.
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

Synchronize activities with other pumphouses to ensure a continuous flow of products and a minimum of contamination between products.

Operate auxiliary equipment and control multiple processing units during distilling or treating operations, moving controls that regulate valves, pumps, compressors, and auxiliary equipment.

Maintain and repair equipment, or report malfunctioning equipment to supervisors so that repairs can be scheduled.

Signal other workers by telephone or radio to operate pumps, open and close valves, and check temperatures.

Inspect pipelines, tightening connections and lubricating valves as necessary.

Conduct general housekeeping of units, including wiping up oil spills and performing general cleaning duties.

Read and analyze specifications, schedules, logs, test results, and laboratory recommendations to determine how to set equipment controls to produce the required qualities and quantities of products.

Collect product samples by turning bleeder valves, or by lowering containers into tanks to obtain oil samples.

Control or operate manifold and pumping systems to circulate liquids through a petroleum refinery.

Operate control panels to coordinate and regulate process variables such as temperature and pressure, and to direct product flow rate, according to process schedules.

Plan movement of products through lines to processing, storage, and shipping units, using knowledge of system interconnections and capacities.

Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
Controlling Machines and Processes Using either control mechanisms or direct physical activity to operate machines or processes (not including computers or vehicles).
Making Decisions and Solving Problems Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Interacting With Computers Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
Mechanical Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
Mathematics Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
Public Safety and Security Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
Education and Training Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
Computers and Electronics Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
Production and Processing Knowledge of raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and other techniques for maximizing the effective manufacture and distribution of goods.
Telecommunications Knowledge of transmission, broadcasting, switching, control, and operation of telecommunications systems.
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.
Operation Monitoring Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
Monitoring Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
Operation and Control Controlling operations of equipment or systems.
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.
Quality Control Analysis Conducting tests and inspections of products, services, or processes to evaluate quality or performance.
Complex Problem Solving Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
Writing Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.