Petroleum engineer


Also known as:

  • Drilling engineer
  • Petrophysicist

What they do

Petroleum engineers plan, design and oversee the operation of petroleum extraction facilities such as oil and gas rigs. They study and map geological formations to determine where petroleum deposits are located and how they should best be extracted. They plan and design ways of extracting and transporting petroleum from deposits beneath the seabed or underneath the earth's surface. They determine at what rate deposits can be extracted, and the most cost effective ways of controlling the flow of oil and gas. Petroleum engineers may work in mining company offices, which are located either in Perth on in regional centres, or on oil and gas rigs off the coast of the state.

Specialisations include: Mud Engineer, Petrophysical Engineer

Working conditions

Petroleum engineers may work in the offices of petroleum mining companies, or they may work on petroleum mining rigs. Those working in offices usually work regular hours but may be expected to work longer hours when necessary. Those working on oil and gas rigs usually stay on the rig for extended periods, working and living in close proximity to other staff. Weather conditions on the rig may be harsh.

Tools and technologies

Petroleum engineers usually work with computers, especially computer-aided design (CAD) software, as well as word processing, data management and mapping software. They also use other office equipment. Although they do not operate it directly, they need to understand the way in which petroleum extraction, storage and transportation equipment works.

How do I become one?

Education and training

To become a petroleum engineer, you usually need to study a degree in engineering, with a major in oil and gas or petroleum engineering. You may need to complete further postgraduate study to specialise in oil and gas or petroleum engineering.

Some universities in Western Australia offer relevant courses. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.