Major in Petroleum Engineering - An Overview

Petroleum engineering is concerned with the economic extraction of oil, gas and other natural resources from the earth. This is accomplished through the design, drilling and operations of wells and, the integrated management of the underground reservoirs in which the resources are found.

Petroleum engineers are responsible for the identification and production of hydrocarbons, requiring a range of skills in engineering and Geosciences disciplines.  They may work on a drilling rig, as part of a multi-disciplinary team for an energy company or as one of a diverse range of service contractors who support the extraction of hydrocarbons.

The petroleum Engineering is divided into two parts:
  • Upstream Sector

The upstream sector consists of activities like exploration, production and exploitation of oil and natural gases. After gaining a qualification in petroleum engineering, the engineers work in the exploration and production activities of petroleum and other related products. Using the latest drilling technology and geophysics for the exploration of oil reservoirs, they exploit the same for maximum output.
  • Downstream Sector

The downstream sector consist activities such as the refining, marketing and distributing of petroleum products. Production is not the only work carried out in a petroleum company and the job of petroleum engineer does not get over as the oil is produced, rather, it starts at this stage. Refining process is crucial for an oil product as then only it can be used. Marketing and distributing department may require a petroleum engineer to have some management degree.

Petroleum Engineering is an exciting and technically challenging programme that will equip the aspirants for a range of careers in the petroleum industry. Ongoing growth in worldwide energy consumption means demand for petroleum engineers is high. Oil companies and service providers are actively recruiting graduates in this area, which remains buoyant despite the economic climate.

Who should opt?

If you desire to create a difference in the world- and if you are looking for challenges, adventure, choices, and excellent financial rewards- consider a career in petroleum engineering. Petroleum engineers make the world run. They search the far corners of the Earth and the world’s oceans to find and produce oil and gas supplies. They keep energy flowing to light and heat our homes. And they do all these things with the highest regard for protecting the environment.

Petroleum Engineering is a career that is fulfilling and the work is critical to the functioning of the economic system. All you need is right preparation and guidance right from high school. We at have prepared a section on guidance required to choose majors from high school, college prep to take up a career as a Petroleum Engineer.

Take a look at all our articles on Petroleum Engineering Major prep guide.

When you embark on a career in Petroleum Engineering, you can expect:
  • Strong Job Prospects

    Employment of petroleum engineers is projected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations as per the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Oil prices will be a major determinant of employment growth, as higher prices lead to increasing complexity of oil companies’ operations.

  • Good Pay and Benefits

    Most petroleum engineers also enjoy excellent pay and an above-average employee benefits package. The median annual wage for petroleum engineers is approximately $130,280 in USA. Typical benefits packages include generous paid time off, matching retirement plan contributions and full health, disability and life insurance coverage.

  • Great Opportunities

    Petroleum engineers are involved in all phases of oil exploration, from choosing prospective sites through taking down the drilling rig after extracting the oil.

    Petroleum engineers can have varied job titles:

    • Reservoir engineer- uses sophisticated computer models to determine the optimal petroleum recovery process and plan the number, type and location of wells.

    • Facilities or Production engineer- involved in designing or managing a new development project or maintaining and optimizing existing production operations.

    • Operations Engineers- ensure a company runs smoothly. Operations engineers regularly checks for repairs in machinery and are involved with scheduling, shipping and manufacturing.

    • Completion Engineers create and design procedures that improve oil and gas recovery, while also observing the profitability of drilling the well.

You could be a manager, an entrepreneur, an economist or an environmentalist too by doing Petroleum engineering. As well as the potential to work for oil and gas companies and their major suppliers, you could find rewarding opportunities in such fields as teaching, consulting and government services. You can be part of this most booming career if you prepare and plan well ahead right from high school. Explore all about Petroleum Engineering Major Guide.
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