What is Petroleum Engineering?
Petroleum Engineering is an interdisciplinary subject; you will study a number of subjects including geology, physics, chemistry, mathematics, thermodynamics and fluid mechanics. You will be taught how hydrocarbons are generated, stored and produced deep underground. On completion of the program, you will understand the entire life-cycle from identification to the production of oil and gas fields, and how to operate and maintain the equipment which is used in the entire process.
What Petroleum Engineers do?
Petroleum engineers do not just dig a hole in the ground and wait till oil and gas spurts to the surface like a fountain. This process has now become highly technical and sophisticated, requiring the use of the latest equipment and techniques. Petroleum engineering may be classified into various sub-specialties such as reservoir engineering, drilling engineering, and production engineering among others.
A reservoir engineer determines the location of hydrocarbon in place and devises the most appropriate technology to recover the hydrocarbon efficiently and economically. The job of a drilling engineer is to design and execute the drilling process safely at minimum cost. Drilling a well is a multi-million dollars activity which is complex and requires specific expertise
After the well is drilled and capped, the production engineer takes over the responsibility of production of the oil or gas commercially, safely and efficiently. Production engineer analyzes the data, interprets it, and optimizes the performance of each individual wells, as well as the overall operation of the field.
Advantages of being a Petroleum Engineer
Petroleum engineers have a life full of challenges and opportunities. They have to develop and apply new engineering techniques to recover oil and gas from various subsurface formations. They work at the cutting edge of technology and thereby are entitled to some of the best salaries and perks in the industry.
- Growth of population and energy demands means there will a constant need for Petroleum Engineers. Even as oil reserves dwindle and alternate energy resources are being developed, the demand for oil will remain high for the next 50 years or more.
- Petroleum Engineering is a specialized subject, few universities offer it and few students enter it, so you have less competition and better chances of continued employment.
- This is an interdisciplinary field and you have a chance to study a wide variety of subjects. Petroleum engineers use high-performance computers, for analysis, simulation and also in automation of oilfield drilling and production equipment.
- The industry has the highest salary rate. Last year the average starting salary for petroleum engineers with a bachelor’s degree was $78,541,(ref NACE Salary survey) with a median salary of a petroleum engineer at $128,230 (ref: U of Ok website)
- Most oil and gas companies operate on a world-wide basis and you will have a chance to travel and work all over the world with the best of facilities even in the most challenging environments.
Best Petroleum Engineering Schools
Here are some of the top schools offering degrees in Petroleum Engineering:
No. 1 petroleum engineering undergraduate and graduate programs according to US News & World Report. Their tradition of excellence stems from strong curriculum, world-class faculty, and an unmatched research program. The faculty develop interdisciplinary research in petroleum and geosystems engineering as well as other areas related to energy and the environment. The professors conduct $13 million in research a year, more than any other U.S. petroleum engineering program.
Colorado School of Mines offers a prestigious entry into petroleum engineering education through an interdisciplinary teamwork approach. The University focuses on laboratory and classroom training to prepare students with the knowledge required to perform in the industry
The Mewbourne School of Petroleum and Geological Engineering (MPGE), located within the Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy, is one of the oldest and ranks among the top five programs in the nation. MPGE’s rigorous curriculum prepares students for work in a far-reaching industry that supports much of the heartland. Students receive a firm foundation in contemporary oil and gas issues, extraction methods, engineering processes, resource development and advanced course work in the three primary petroleum engineering specializations: Drilling Engineering, Production Engineering and Reservoir Engineering.
The McDougall School of Petroleum Engineering is the largest department on the TU campus. Internationally recognized as one of the top petroleum engineering schools in the country. Its mission is to provide a high-quality educational experience that prepares each graduate either to work in the petroleum industry or to pursue an advanced petroleum engineering degree. The school offers many research opportunities with nine consortia that are supported by some of the world’s top energy firms.
Pennsylvania State University – John & Willie Leone Family Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering
The John and Willie Leone Family Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering (EME) educates students to embrace the challenges of bringing these natural resources into our daily lives. The team of faculty, staff, and students strive for excellence in devising ways to ensure an affordable supply of energy and minerals, while protecting the environment and the health and safety of the workforce. From generating heat and electricity to transportation and recreation, all our activities depend on fuels and minerals extracted from the earth.
LSU’s Craft and Hawkins Department of Petroleum Engineering has run a highly respected program since the 1920’s. LSU has a unique laboratory not found anywhere else in a University in the United States; The Petroleum Engineering Research & Technology Transfer, or PERTT, Laboratory. This is a full scale, hands-on training facility for students to understand bore-hole technology. LSU invests large resources in its research departments including the PERTT Laboratory. Research areas of expertise include well control & blowout prevention, enhanced recovery, and down-hole water sink technology. Alumni will leave LSU armed with strategies that can help make a difference in the field. It’s not surprising that the oil and gas industry loves to recruit LSU Petroleum Engineering graduates and postgraduates.
The Harold Vance Department of Petroleum Engineering of Texas A&M University has been ranked as the best petroleum engineering department for its undergraduate programs in petroleum engineering. It offers a complete curriculum of studies in Petroleum Engineering from an undergraduate engineering degree to a doctorate program.
Texas Tech University – Whitacre College of Engineering/Bob L. Herd Department of Petroleum Engineering
The Bob L. Herd Department of Petroleum Engineering is staffed with industry-experienced faculty members who have an average of more than 15 years of experience per faculty member. This experience is combined with sound engineering and scientific principles in the classroom and made an integral part of the candidate’s educational challenge.