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Career in Petroleum Engineering

Introduction

Despite the fact that petroleum engineering is an attractive and high paying career option, not much information is available on it. Typically, a petroleum engineering graduate is given the job to discover natural sources of oil and examine the same. Similarly, developing the latest machines and equipments which can be used in the extraction and processing of oil is part of the job of a petroleum engineer. Petroleum engineers have global career and are hired by global oil companies.

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.

Step-by-Step

As the world is highly dependent upon petroleum as a source of energy, a career in the field is bound to be attractive and challenging. An aspirant can do a BTech in petroleum engineering after completing 10+2 in the science stream.

Similarly, post graduate program in the field can be done after the completion of BE/BTech degree in the relevant subject. If you are an MSc in Chemistry then that also makes you eligible to do post graduation in petroleum engineering. Research can be done in the fields of petroleum refining and petrochemicals, petroleum exploration and production and mechanical or petroleum science, etc.

Start Early

Considering the inclination towards petroleum engineering one should start preparing for entrance exams which are conducted by various engineering colleges. As Petroleum is available in areas which are geographically isolated places, it could be challenging to work in such a place. However, it is a highly paid career and money attracts lots of students to pursue this field of study in engineering colleges.

Is it the Right Career for Me?

Asking the question to self might answer whether you are right in selecting petroleum engineering as your career. Before opting for a career in petroleum engineering analyse yourself, your interests, long term goals, affordability of staying in foreign lands and many other related issues. Considering your decision you will be required to study and complete your education so that you are eligible to do a course in petroleum engineering.

What would it Cost Me?

Doing a course in petroleum engineering is expensive. One reason for high fee structure may be because the course requires lots of experiments and equipments. BTech or BE in Petroleum Engineering can cost between Rs 6 to Rs 8 lakhs. Similarly, MTech in petroleum engineering can cost more than Rs 3 lakhs.

Funding and Scholarship

Despite high costs, courses in petroleum engineering attract lots of bright students. Students can get education loans from various nationalised banks or private banks which are being made available at low interest rates. Scholarships are available for meritorious students, particularly for those who excel in entrance exams. Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited (ONGC) scholarships are offered to SC/ST students who want to do research in engineering.

Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd offers attractive scholarships for engineering students interested in doing research in petroleum energy. Indian Oil Corporation under its corporate social responsibility offers 100 scholarships to engineering students wherein students can avail Rs 2000 per month for four years bachelor degree.

Job Prospects

Career prospects are quite attractive in petroleum sector as petroleum companies have great influence and offer attractive salaries to employees. The demand for petroleum and petroleum products is only expected to increase and the increase would lead to creation of new jobs. In fact, there is great demand of efficient petroleum engineers and almost every young graduate in petroleum engineering gets a job offer from petrol and gas companies from India and overseas.

Whereas private petroleum companies offer attractive salaries to petroleum engineers, government sector oil companies are not far behind in terms of paying attractive salaries and bonuses to employees.

Pay Packet

As in every other industry, remuneration in petroleum engineering is determined according to the knowledge, skills, qualification, capabilities and experience of the candidate. Moreover, if the candidate is from top notch engineering college he may get a job which can pay salary between Rs 25,000 and Rs 30,000 per month. People working in petroleum producing MNCs get median annual salary of around $100, 000.

Demand and Supply

The expanding demand for petroleum products would require exploitation of oil reservoirs which consequently would need trained petroleum engineers. Currently, there is big mismatch in the demand and supply of trained petroleum engineers in India. When Indian oil companies are going overseas and setting up oil producing units, jobs in petroleum sector are bound to increase. Moreover, India is new in imparting training skills in petroleum engineering to its youths. More than India, it is MNCs from overseas who hire Indian petroleum engineers for their various projects.

Market Watch

Despite the fact that oil fields and reservoirs are diminishing, the consumption of oil is increasing rapidly. According to Exxon Mobile sources, global liquid fuels consumption rose to approximately 85 million barrels per day in the first half of 2010. It is more than 1 million barrels per day higher than the first half of 2009.  There would be jobs coming up in the US oil companies but not in the US, in gulf countries and other parts of Central Asia.

Jobs in Russian petroleum firms would be coming up in a big way as the country is trying to exploit its huge oil reservoirs to sell out its petroleum products. Moreover, attractive job options would be available to young petroleum engineers once production starts at Krishna-Godavari basin in India. Companies involved in oil extraction hire Indian petroleum engineers for they work at lower salaries than engineers from other countries.

International Focus

Besides getting jobs in Indian petroleum companies, candidates with qualification in petroleum engineering get jobs in Reliance Industries Ltd, ONGC, Schlumberger, British Gas, Halliburton Services, Essar Oil, GSPC, Shell, OIL, Gas Authority of India Ltd, Cairn Energy, IOCL, Essar Oil Ltd, NIKO Resources, GEOENPRO, MECOM Ltd, Baker Hughes, Reliance Energy, etc amongst many others.

Those who have done masters or research in petroleum engineering can work in research activities of various multinational oil companies in various R&D projects.

Positives and Negatives

Whereas a golden future in exploitation of ‘liquid gold’ attracts every young engineer, risks involved in it can deter many not to opt for such a career. In order to search new oilfields, at times, petroleum engineers are required to stay in remote and distant areas which are not only difficult but unattractive too. When compared with other sophisticated engineering branches such as IT, petroleum engineering professionals face numerous difficulties. No one would wish to work in remote and arid area where life becomes difficult.

On the positive side, it is a highly rewarding career and also provides opportunities to travel to distant places.

Different Roles, Different Names

Depending upon the qualification, skills and experience, roles and designations differ in the field. Some of the positions offered are Reservoir Engineer, Technical Support Engineer, Senior Geoscientist, Drill Bits System Field Engineer, Petroleum Technologist and Drilling Engineer. Other positions are Principal Reservoir Petro Physicist, Technical Support Specialist, Tender and Quotations Analyst, Geosciences Pressure Expert, Senior Petro Physicist, Senior Exploration Geologist and Process Engineer.

Top Companies

• Indian Oil Corporation
• IBP Co. Limited
• Lubricants India
• Oil Gas India
• Petrosil Group
• Shiv-Vani Universal
• ONGC
• Bharat Petroleum
• Reliance Petroleum Limited
• Essar Oil Limited
• Gas Authority of India
• Hindustan Petroleum Corporation
• Aban
• Oil India Limited
• Tata Petrodyne
• Bongaigaon Refinery
• Gas Projects (India) Private Limited
• Hindustan Oil Exploration Company Limited
• India LPG
• Kochi Refineries Limited

Top Institutes

The following institutes offer academic qualification in petroleum engineering:

• Bharathisadan Institute of Engineering and Technology
• BR Ambedkar Technological University
• Indian School of Mines
• Maharashtra Institute of Technology
• Institute of Petroleum Studies and Chemical Engineering
• Nowrosjee Wadia College
• University of Petroleum Studies
• Institute of Cheminformatics Studies
• Dr. Harising Gour University

Students interested in pursuing courses in petroleum engineering can do the following:
• BE Petroleum Engineering
• BTech Applied Petroleum Engineering
• BTech Petrochemical Engineering
• BTech Petroleum Engineering
• BTech Petroleum Refining and Petrochemicals Engineering
• BTech Petroleum Refining Engineering
• BTech Petroleum Reservoir And Production Engineering
• ME Petroleum Engineering
• MTech Petroleum Engineering
• MTech Petroleum Exploration
• MTech Petroleum Refinery Engineering
• MTech Petroleum Refining and Petrochemical Engineering

Tips for getting hired

An international career is much attractive and young engineers willing to explore can work in global oil companies and get international exposure; however, here are few things which can help in building a successful career:

• Excellent academic record in BTech in Petroleum Engineering is a must.
• Technical exposure during various projects carried out during the course shows that the candidate can work effectively when exposed to real scenarios.
• Excellent numerical and computer skills are expected from petroleum engineers as most of the time there would be computer simulation required for further analysis.
• Skills to plan out project and execute them with team spirit are further requirements.

Sound communication skills in English language would enhance the chances of getting international exposure and higher position within the organization.

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