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Oil is well

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.

education Updated: Jun 11, 2013 18:25 IST
Eye-on-black-gold-Petroleum-engineers-are-concerned-with-the-activities-related-to-the-production-of-hydrocarbons
Eye-on-black-gold-Petroleum-engineers-are-concerned-with-the-activities-related-to-the-production-of-hydrocarbons

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 gas industry that include exploration for hydrocarbons. Petroleum engineering broadly consists of different areas such as drilling, reservoir and production stream. Drilling deals with designing and implementing procedures to drill wells as safely and economically as possible, and depending on its purpose, it may be used for analysing hydrocarbon pools (major fossil fuels such as coal, petroleum and natural gas are hydrocarbons). Reservoir engineering deals with study of such pools and work out on ways to utilise it. Production engineering comes into play after the reservoir has been understood and wells have been drilled and the hydrocarbon begins to flow. An important challenge facing the profession is high risk in investment under high degree of uncertainty in oil and gas reservoirs.

Clockwork
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
2pm: Continue with work
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 off-shore drilling sites, hence is compensated well. His salary is at least 1.5 times more than that of his counterparts in other core sectors. Engineers with added skills earn two-three times as much and their professional growth is very fast

Skills/TRAITS
* 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 pressure and temperature and requires high 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

Getting there
Read physics, chemistry and maths in Class 11 and 12. After Class 12 you need to take all-India entrance tests such as JEE, etc. Admission to various institutes is on the basis of your score in these tests. Once you qualify, do a four-year BTech course in petroleum engineering. After graduation, you can go in for an MTech and later a PhD

Institutes and URLs
* Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad www.ismdhanbad.ac.in
* Pandit Deendayal Petroleum University, Gandhinagar www.pdpu.ac.in
* Maharashtra Institute of Technology, Pune www.mitpune.com
* University of Petroleum and Energy Studies, Dehradun www.upes.ac.in
* Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Petroleum Technology-Rae Bareli www.rgipt.in
* CSIR-Indian Institute of Petroleum, Dehradun www.iip.res.in
* Dibrugarh University, Assam www.dibru.ac.in/page.php?cat=Department&id=Petroleum%20Technology

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; jobs are concentrated in certain parts of the world
* Long working hours off-shore
* Physically strenuous