A petroleum engineer is one who has studied petroleum engineering. This is an engineering field concerned with all activities in hydrocarbon production. Hydrocarbons in this case include crude oil or natural gas. Petroleum engineering aims at maximising recovery of hydrocarbons economicaly from subsurface reservoirs. However, the recovery of hydrocarbons involves the following steps.
The processes involved in hydrocarbon recovery are interdisciplinary as they include;
- The geologists and geophysicists, (who perform the static description of the reservoir rock by analysis of subsurface structures using geological and geophysical methods),
- The reservoir engineer, whose aim is to optimise production of oil and gas through, proper well placement, models the productivity of the reservoir and predicts the reservoir potential with the aid of computer simulation software,
- Petroleum engineers who estimate the recoverable volume by utilising their understanding of the physical properties and behaviour of oil, water and gas within the reservoir.
- Production engineers – who manage the interface between the reservoir and the well through such tasks as perforations, sand control, artificial lift, downhole flow control and downhole monitoring equipment.
- Drilling engineers: who manage the technical aspects of drilling both production and injection wells. They work in multidisciplinary teams alongside other engineers, scientists, drilling teams and contractors.
- Facilities Engineers who ensure proper selection and design of surface equipments used in separation of the produced fluids (oil, gas and water).
The petroleum engineer is involved in nearly all the stages of exploration, development and production. They are charged with the task of economical hydrocarbon recovery with minimal environmental impact. ]
The petroleum Engineer requires to also have a relatively good knowledge of other related disciplines such as petroleum geology, geophysics, well logging, drilling, field development economics, reservoir simulation and engineering, well engineering, artificial lift systems, completions and facilities engineering.
However, the combined efforts of geologists and petroleum engineers helps in determining the way a reservoir is to be developed and depleted.