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Fire for fuel

education Updated: Jan 11, 2012 18:50 IST

The lowdown
Petroleum engineering is a discipline concerned with the subsurface activities related to the production of hydrocarbons - which can be either crude oil or natural gas. These are activities within the upstream sector of the oil and natural gas industry that include exploration for hydrocarbons. Petroleum engineering requires a good knowledge of many other related disciplines, such as geophysics, petroleum geology, formation evaluation (well logging), drilling, economics, reservoir simulation, well engineering, artificial lift systems, and oil and gas facilities engineering. In other words, the scope of petroleum engineering includes exploration of hydrocarbons, reservoir studies, drilling and well completion, operations and production of oil and gas (onshore and/or offshore) and their transportation. One should be very clear that petroleum refining is not petroleum engineering

Offshore work life:
7am: Chopper sortie from manned platform to unmanned rig
7.30am: Prepare for the day’s tasks
8am: Check all the safety measures. Protective eyewear and helmets are a must
9am: Inspect the well head valves and panels to make sure that every thing is working fine 10am: Check tools and make them ready
10.30am: Check exploration work, get data
1pm: Lunch
3pm: Departmental meetings
8pm: Take chopper back to manned platform
8.30pm: Call it a day

The payoff
At the entry level, one may get anything between Rs 3 lakh and Rs 8 lakh a year. A petroleum engineer normally works in harsh conditions in remote areas such as offshore drilling sites. His salary is at least 1.5 times more than that of his counterparts in other core sectors

* Jobs related to data processing and interpretations are done with the help of state-of-the-art software running on sophisticated hardware. Hence one is required to be technologically savvy
* Drilling involves dealing with subsurface conditions of pressures and temperatures and requires skill with machinery and related judgements
* Production operations require people who love action and have a knack for keeping the operations smooth and running in the face of several challenges
* Ability to handle tough work conditions
* Should be a good team player

Getting there
Take up physics, chemistry and mathematics in Class 12. After completing Class 12, you will have to take all-India entrance tests such as the IIT-JEE and AIEEE etc. Admission to various institutes will be on the basis of your score in these entrance exams. This has to be followed by a BTech which is a four-year course. You may then go for MTech and later a PhD

Institutes and URLs
* Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad
* Pandit Deendayal Petroleum University, Gandhinagar
* MIT-Pune
* University of Petroleum and Energy Studies, Dehradun
* Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Petroleum Technology, Rae Bareli

Pros and cons
* The job is challenging
* Exposure to best-in-class technology
* High salary
* Wide spectrum of activities
* You will have to work in remote locations
* Long working hours offshore
* Physically strenuous
* Somewhat risky
* Your social life may be very restricted

As India grows, its energy consumption will also increase. This trend will create a greater demand for professionals. Students can look forward to a lucrative career in this field PK Agarwal, director of the human resources division, TERI University