Oil and gas engineers are responsible for making sure that oil or gas surfaces from reservoirs safely and efficiently.
Oil and gas engineers are heavily involved with every stage in the process which results in the extraction of oil and gas from reservoirs. They may be primarily involved in just one area of the process but will need to retain an awareness of all stages at all times. Typical responsibilities include calculating and creating plans which show the locations in which the most oil and gas can be extracted, controlling one or several wells, and ensuring that health and safety regulations are met at all times. Oil and gas engineers will need to use their knowledge of petrophysics to ensure that drilling operations are conducted accurately and efficiently.
They will be expected to draw upon their mathematical and scientific knowledge at all times but will also need to be able to retain a broad perspective throughout each project. They will need to adopt supervisory roles and managerial roles at different stages of the process. Engineering is an industry which employs people from all backgrounds and cultures and both men and women find roles in engineering particularly rewarding.
Engineering is an industry which generally pays well and positions in oil and gas engineering are no exception. Starting salaries may be as high as £35,000, although they are more likely to be around the £30,000 mark. Engineers working for large, multinational companies are likely to earn significantly more than those working for smaller companies.
After several years in the role, individuals can expect their salaries to increase to between £50,000 and £70,000. Oil and gas engineers who take on managerial responsibilities on large projects may earn in excess of £90,000 per year. Bonuses are a common feature of the job and generous living allowances are often provided for those working overseas.
- Meeting with other engineers and scientists to draw up a plan of action.
- Obtaining the necessary permits and licences needed to complete the work.
- Ensuring that the process complies with regulations and laws currently affecting the engineering industry.
- Interpreting well-logging results.
- Finding out the locations which will be most productive.
- Producing mathematical models which will help individuals visualise the process.
- Designing/choosing appropriate equipment for drilling.
- Designing pumps and other systems necessary for the well to flow efficiently.
- Making sure cables are strong enough to support the process system.
- Performing tasks which improve the flow path.
- Analysing drilling performance and efficiency.
- Ensuring that drilling is performed safely at all times.
- Making sure that wells are maintained at all times.
- Adhering to relevant health and safety regulations.
- Training staff and making sure that they work well as a team.
- Keeping clients informed of the project’s progress.
Most oil and gas engineers hold degrees in relevant subjects and many hold postgraduate qualifications. Relevant subjects include aeronautical engineering, chemical engineering, civil engineering, and mechanical engineering. Oil and gas engineers with a relevant PhD often command a higher salary. Since the industry is so competitive, an upper second class degree will give you an advantage. Large international companies offer graduate training programmes, which offer both a good salary and invaluable experience for a future career in oil and gas extraction. It is not possible to become an oil and gas engineer with an HND.
Companies usually encourage employees to gain chartered status and many choose to become members of relevant institutes and associations.
Oil and gas engineers will need to possess the following skills:
- A methodical approach.
- An in-depth knowledge of science and mathematics.
- Team-leading skills.
- Enthusiasm and commitment to each project.
- The ability to take responsibility for mistakes .
- The ability to take own initiative whilst obeying health and safety regulations.
- The ability to explain complex processes in simple terms.
- Good business skills.
- The ability to motivate self and others.
- The ability to pay close attention to detail whilst retaining a broad perspective.
- Flexibility and creativity.
Oil and gas engineers are usually able to work between the hours of nine and five. However, they will need to remain flexible and overtime may be necessary. Offshore projects will see individuals working shifts and they will usually be able to come home for short periods after working for longer periods on site. Although a lot of time is spent in the project location, oil and gas engineers spend most of their time in a comfortable office environment. Those considering a career as an oil or gas engineer should be aware that the job can be stressful and unpredictable at times. It can also be physically demanding.
No formal experience is required prior to making an application. However, undertaking internships and unpaid work experience at relevant companies will provide you with an advantage.
Major employers of oil and gas engineers include:
- Operating companies.
- Engineering consultancies.
- Specialist contractors.
- Service companies.
- Drilling companies.
Oil and gas engineers may progress from holding technical roles, where they would be involved in the daily work of a project, to managerial and supervisory roles. Some choose to move away from work offshore to hold positions in the marketing department of the oil company or consultancy. These individuals will be responsible for managing the growth of the business.
Also known as…
- Petroleum engineers
What’s it really like?
Colin has been involved in engineering for over fifty years.
Between 1958 and 1963, he worked as a trainee in the design and engineering of reinforced concrete for domestic and light engineering structures. From 1963 to 1983, Colin was responsible for designing and engineering facilities for refineries and petro-chemical plants. During this time, he worked in an office but also spent a lot of time working on site, meeting with both contractors and clients. Since 1983, Colin has been involved in the management of the development of the oil and gas industry. He has spent periods of time working as a project engineer, a project manager, and an authorities liaison manager.
At the moment, Colin is responsible for developing the facilities involved in processing and exporting oil and gas from subsea reservoirs. He specialises in obtaining permits and licences and ensures that relevant legislation is met at all times. Colin has previously been involved in Interface Management. The main sectors which Colin was involved with during this time were wells (spread out over an area of approximately fifty square miles) and subsea facilities (which refer to pipes and cables linking the wells to the process system). Colin was responsible primarily for managing the interface between the processing plant and the other sectors.
Colin found it relatively easy to pursue a career in engineering. He left school with O Levels and started working as a trainee in a design office. He attended the Brixton School of Building for one day and three evenings per week, gaining an ONC and HNC in structural engineering after five years. He also gained valuable experience and skills in the workplace. During a typical day at work, Colin spends one third of his time working on his computer, another third of his time attending formal meetings and the other third holding informal one to one meetings.
Colin enjoys meeting people to iron out problems which occur regularly and helping the process reach its final stages. He has also enjoyed travelling abroad, having spent time working in Belgium, Holland, Germany, Norway, Brazil, and Scotland. However, in his present position, the management structure is fairly complex. This makes it difficult to know who does what and the numerous procedures and protocol makes it hard to liaise effectively with different employees. Colin is going to be 68 later this year and he is currently hoping to stay in his role until retirement.
Colin had some useful words of wisdom for those hoping to become oil and gas engineers. He recommends gaining as many qualifications as possible and learning as much about the role as they can. As well as specialising in a particular area, aspiring oils and gas engineers should also become heavily involved with peripheral activities including planning and costs. Furthermore, it is important to attend all social functions and aim high at all times. It can be difficult to climb the career ladder since there is fierce competition on each level but, if you start at a high level and then happen to slip down a rung or two, you will still be in a good position. Above all else, Colin advises enjoying what you do at all times, since the position of oil and gas engineer can be very rewarding.