Enviro & Petroleum Engineer

Enviro & Petroleum Engineer

Oil Comp Engr

36 Years Experience

Houston, TX

Female, 57

I have worked at a major integrated oil company for over 30 years. I have degrees in Civil and Petroleum Engineering. I currently work with safety, health and environmental management systems. I have worked in operations and safety in both the upstream (finding and producing oil and gas) and downstream (refining, chemicals and distributions) areas. I have travelled all over the world. I enjoy my job but have endured both good & bad business cycles as well as good and bad managers.

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184 Questions


Last Answer on August 01, 2018

Best Rated

Are there any real appreciable differences in regular vs. premium gasoline, or is it just a marketing gimmick? What grade of gasoline do you use?

Asked by JTflash over 5 years ago

I am a petroleum engineer, not a refinery engineer.   I suggest you check out this website and decide for yourself:  http://www.consumerenergycenter.org/transportation/consumer_tips/regular_vs_premium.html

You mention that gas prices are simply the product of supply and demand, but haven't oil company profits skyrocketed in recent years?

Asked by hmmm over 5 years ago

I think you are confusing profits with return on investment. Yes, oil companies have made a lot of profit in sheer # of dollars but if you look at the capital employed, the rate of return is nowhere near what Apple or Microsoft makes. The other thing to take into account is that oil companies don't control the lion's share of oil and gas reserves any more. The nationalized oil companies in places like Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iran and Venezuela control most of the reserves and impact the price of oil and gas.

Right out of college, are you able to choose to where you'll work- in a office setting or out on the rig?

Asked by Eli over 5 years ago

Generally, I would say yes.  However, it depends on what positions are available and what the company's philosophy is.  Given the choice, I would recommend it is best to get as much field experience as you can, be it at a rig, a production facility, a gas plant, etc.  There will always be opportunities for office work but as you get older, have kids, etc., hit gets harder to be in the field away from your family.  Also, although many of the major business decisions are made in the office, good decisions depend on a deep understanding of how things work in the field and what can and cannot be done.

With computers able to handle the number-crunching, why is mathematics so important in preparation for this profession?

Asked by CurlyGold over 5 years ago

Mathematics is about so much more than "number crunching". Computers do more than just add lots of numbers. Mathematics is about solving problems and building models that simulate natural phenomena. Engineers either build those mathematical models OR they have to study mathematics and computer science to be able to understand whether the models they use are valid for the problem they are attempting to solve.  if you want to delve deeper, I recommend a fascinating book called, " Is God a mathematician?". You can find it Amazon or most large bookstores.

30 years? Wow. Is it common for oil company employees to stay with the same company for such long spans of time?

Asked by Sharon.86 over 5 years ago

I would say that it is not extremely common as it is not the place for everybody. However, it is very common for engineers and geologists to start with a large company, get their training and then leave for smaller companies that can't afford to run their own training programs OR they leave to start their own business. The big money (and big risk) is running your own company. You have to get funding but if you have just one big success, you can become very wealthy. I'm a bit risk averse which is why I never took the plunge to go out on my own, plus I liked the environmental side of the business better than the frontline operations. Environmental work is a bit grueling at a consulting firm but at a large company it is a bit more of 9 to 5 job which was good for me and my kids as they were growing up. Also, I was attracted to the fact that, at a large company, there would likely be opportunities to work in different areas of the business without having to change companies and lose seniority and/or benefits. Also, if you don't like your boss, he/she will eventually get transferred (or you will). At a small company, you could get stuck with a bad boss or bad work group for decades.

Is the oil industry male-dominated, and have you ever felt disadvantaged being a woman in that business?

Asked by PBJtime over 5 years ago

There is a higher percentage of women engineers now than when I started 30 years ago, but it is still male dominated as are most engineering fields. I have never felt disadvantaged likely due to the fact that I entered the industry in the days just after the Arab Oil embargo when crude oil prices were high and projected to continue to climb. Oil companies were competing vigorously for engineers, men or women. Also, I was fortunate in that many of the rig superintendents I worked with were my dad's age and had daughters going into the industry. So, if anything, for me it was reverse discrimination when I went to the rigs. The guys had to sleep with the roughnecks, but I typically got my own room. I have noticed some subtle discrimination, however. For example, I notice that at meetings the men often interrupt each other and never get called on it. However, if I interrupt someone, I am chided to be patient and "wait my turn". As with all engineering fields, women engineers do struggle with the on ramping and off ramping if they significant time off (i.e. years) to raise kids. This does not seem to be as big an issue for doctors and lawyers. Also, we still need to make more progress in offering part time work to women engineers.

I am a senior going for a bachelor's in Civil Eng. I want to work in the Oil/Gas Industry as a Petroleum Eng. Is it better to get a 2nd bachelor's in PEtr Engr or a master's? And what about getting an online bachelor's or master's deg in Petr Eng?

Asked by jameson about 5 years ago

If your grades and resume are pretty good, I would try to get on with one of the major oil companies (Chevron, Shell, ExxonMobil, etc.) and let them train you.  Most of them will pay your tuitiom if you want to pursue a masters degree at night.   You will find a LOT of engineers who work as petroleum engineers have a degree in ME, ChE, CE , etc.  If your grades are not so great or this is not an option, then consider getting a Master's degree in PE from one of the top notch schools for PE like LSU, Penn State, Univ of TX or  Texas A  & M.  The demand is so great for petroleum engineers right now that you can probably enter their program with a BS in Civil and with a few courses to catch up, get a Masters in PE.  The scholarships in PE are pretty good right now.  Also, the courses you have taken as a civil will probably be good prequisites for the PE masters courses.  For example, I have a BS in Civil and a Masters in PE.  When I took courses in geology and casing design, they were a cinch.  Tulane University used to have a Masters in PE that was designed just for those with a bachelors in something other than PE.  They closed that program in the 1990's but maybe other universities have a similar program.  I would probably not pursue a bachelors in PE (I think you would be bored) nor an online degree (I don't think they have credibility yet).