Life of a Petroleum Engineer
The life of a Petroleum Engineer involves a large amount of travel and on-site work. Therefore, the amount of time spent at your desk in the office can be quite limited at times. By definition, the field involves intensive analysis and management of reservoir fields in numerous worldwide locations, which might require extended stays.
Despite the travel, petroleum engineering can be a very challenging and rewarding field. The reason for this is because fossil fuels are being exhausted at an ever increasing rate, which means that companies now need to go to more remote and extreme locations to explore for new reservoirs. Due to this, Petroleum Engineers have to be ready to travel extensively, work in a variety of climatic conditions which can range from desert heat to icy cold, and in many cases be stationed far from human habitation.
The work also involves extended periods of isolation during the extraction and production process along with long hours, with 80-hour work weeks becoming the norm in many areas. This work, therefore, requires people who can work effectively in small teams or even alone, and have high initiative and are willing to take on huge responsibilities.
Additionally, the fuel extraction and production process requires huge initial investments by companies, and there might be an extended period before they see any profits. This means this field requires engineers who can handle a competitive and stressful environment where they can effectively balance profit considerations, drilling and production problems, while also ensuring safety and minimal shutdowns of the operations. While the work may be hard, if a person is willing to work in a very challenging environment, he or she is sure to reap extensive rewards for their efforts.
Future of Petroleum Engineering
Petroleum Engineering offers individuals the ability to work in a competitive and ever growing field that requires rapidly changing technology to address adverse terrain conditions. With the demand for fossil fuels continuing to grow as is evidenced by the increasing prices for both crude oil and natural gas, the demand for Petroleum Engineers is only set to grow for the foreseeable future. The demand is such that many new graduates are now being offered employment even before the completion of their degrees.
They are being sourced by two classes of companies. The first are the companies which have their own resource deposits such as the major oil & gas players like Exxon Mobil, while the other set includes companies that provide services to the oil & gas industry such as Halliburton.
In either case, Petroleum Engineers can expect extensive travel as most locations are worldwide, as well as work in a multicultural environment. Depending on the stage in your career, if you are starting out, it is recommended that you go with service companies which will give you exposure to many different facets of a company’s operations. This will help build your qualifications and abilities which will serve you better in your mid to late career. At that time, you can choose a more permanent job with an oil & gas giant.
Petroleum Engineers can also expect extensive training and career development programs as companies in this field seek to develop their engineers to address new challenges. Additionally, the prospects for a remarkable salary are great which is consistently rated at the top of all engineering fields.
Currently, the future of the industry seems secure for at least the next forty years as this is a rough estimate of what’s left of the world’s hydrocarbon resources. It should also be noted that as technology advances, it is quite possible that this estimate can increase as better detection and more effective extraction techniques are developed. With that said, Petroleum Engineering can still be considered a secure and profitable career option for the long term.