Petroleum or reservoir engineers are involved in the majority of stages of the oil and gas production process. This includes field evaluation and exploration through to designing and implementing extraction equipment and processes.
You could be:
producing mathematical models to forecast the amount of oil and gas that could be extracted from a field
designing wells, pipe networks and surface facilities required for production
using specialist technology and surveillance data to monitor the quantity and flow of oil and gas being extracted
proposing improvements to maximise production, such as flow rate enhancement
overseeing the progress and work of the well operations and liaising with the drilling team
ensuring that all design and operations meet health, safety and environmental regulations
liaising with other professionals such as geologists or engineers, as well as contractors, suppliers and clients
maintaining project documents and writing reports for management.
The figures below are only a guide. Actual pay rates may vary, depending on:
where you work
the size of the company or organisation you work for
the demand for the job.
Starting pay for petroleum or reservoir engineers is around £25,000 to £30,000 a year. With experience this increases to between £40,000 and £75,000 a year. At senior level the salary could be much higher. Performance-related bonus schemes increase salaries, and additional benefits may be available.
You can work in an office onshore or on a rig or platform offshore. Working offshore is more common in the first 2-3 years of experience. Work is mostly office based after that.
Onshore hours are mostly regular, Monday to Friday, 9.00am to 5.00pm, but you might occasionally work evenings and weekends.
Offshore working hours are normally 12-hour shifts, including nights, and you can spend one or two weeks there at a time.
When offshore you would wear protective clothing and safety equipment such as gloves, boots and a hard hat.
You have to fly by helicopter between the rig or platform and onshore.
When offshore, you would live in shared accommodation and meals are provided.
The University of Aberdeen offers a BEng or MEng in Petroleum Engineering. Entry requirements for the BEng are 4 Highers at ABBB including Maths, Chemistry and Physics or Engineering Science plus National 5 English. Entry requirements for the MEng are 4 Highers at AABB including Maths, Chemistry and Physics or Engineering Science plus National 5 English.
Other relevant degrees include mechanical engineering, which is widely available and chemical, offshore or energy engineering, or physical sciences. Entry requirements are usually 4 to 5 Highers including Maths and Physics, but check with individual institutions.
Postgraduate qualifications in Petroleum Engineering are available at Aberdeen, Heriot-Watt and Robert Gordon universities.
If you work offshore, which is more common in the first 2-3 years of experience, you must pass a medical examination every 2 years.
You must also pass an offshore survival course such as the Basic Offshore Safety Induction and Emergency Training Certificate (BOSIET).
You may also have to undertake the Minimum Industry Safety Training (MIST) course.
an analytical mind and good problem solving skills
initiative and self-reliance
a good technical understanding of geology, physics, maths and chemistry
good verbal and written communication skills
excellent planning and organisational skills
a responsible attitude to health and safety
excellent IT skills.
You need to be able to:
lead and work within a team
work well under pressure
work on a range of projects and multi-task
keep up to date with technology and developments in the sector.
Training is usually on the job and involves spending some time on offshore installations and observing people carrying out different related jobs.
With further training and practical experience you can register with the Engineering Council as a professional engineer – Incorporated Engineer (IEng) or Chartered Engineer (CEng).
For IEng you need to have a recognised Bachelor’s degree or a recognised HNC or HND plus further study to Bachelor’s degree level.
For CEng you need to have a recognised Bachelor’s degree with Honours plus a recognised Masters degree (or equivalent), or a recognised integrated Master of Engineering degree.
If you do not have any of the above qualifications, you may still be able to achieve IEng or CEng by other approved routes. Check the website of the Engineering Council for more information.
You must update your skills and knowledge throughout your career.
You could move on to be a senior engineer or manager.
You might become a self-employed engineering consultant.
There are opportunities to work abroad and this may be necessary for career advancement.
The Engineering Council sets and maintains the standards of the engineering profession in the UK. It does so through 35 professional engineering institutions which are Licensed Members of the Engineering Council.