Mining, Energy & Utilities

Petroleum Engineer

Petroleum engineers devise, plan and develop ways of extracting oil and gas from underground or under-sea deposits.

  • Entry-level education

    Bachelor’s degree

  • Job outlook

    1 2 3 4 5

What does a Petroleum Engineer do?

Petroleum engineers devise, plan and develop ways of extracting oil and gas from underground or under-sea deposits.

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Work activities

As a petroleum engineer, you would:

  • analyse geological and geophysical data to determine where petroleum deposits are located
  • use gathered data to plan drilling locations
  • determine drilling needs and requirements
  • make estimations of the amount of petroleum deposits to ensure drilling is viable
  • identify the liquids or gases contained in boreholes
  • determine the rate at which deposits can be extracted, and the most effective ways of controlling the flow
  • determine the temperatures and pressures that need to be dealt with
  • keep records of production figures
  • plan ways to transport extracted oil and gas from the seabed onto land.
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Key skills and interests

To become a petroleum engineer, you would need:

  • an interest in science, technology and engineering
  • excellent numerical and IT ability
  • problem-solving and lateral thinking skills
  • good planning and organisational skills
  • a methodical and logical approach to your work
  • project management abilities
  • good communication and teamwork skills.
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Working hours and conditions

Working Hours

As a petroleum engineer based in an office, you would work a standard number of hours per week. If you worked on site such as a drilling platform or pipeline, you would usually live and work on site for extended periods, usually on shifts covering a 24-hour period.

Conditions

You could be based in an office or laboratory or on site, including on offshore drilling rigs. If you worked on a drilling platform or pipeline, you would usually live and work on site for extended periods. Weather conditions on offshore drilling rigs can be rough and harsh.

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How to become an Petroleum Engineer?

Entry Level Education

To become a petroleum engineer, you usually have to complete a degree in engineering with a major in oil & gas engineering or petroleum engineering. You could also consider related degrees such as chemical, mechanical or mining engineering. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your senior secondary school certificate or equivalent. English, mathematics, chemistry and physics would be appropriate subjects to study prior to university.

Graduates may be eligible for membership of Engineers Australia.

www.engineersaustralia.org.au

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Job outlook

  • 1 2 3 4 5

Employment of petroleum engineers is projected to grow faster than the average for all occupations.

Higher prices for oil and gas stimulate the drilling of new oil and gas fields and the re-drilling of existing fields. Lower oil prices limit or suspend this activity.

There is current demand for more gas supplies, although supply projections currently suggest that supplies will satisfy demand for the near to medium term. The increasing complexity of oil companies' operations will require more petroleum engineers.

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