Enviro & Petroleum Engineer

Enviro & Petroleum Engineer

Oil Comp Engr

38 Years Experience

Houston, TX

Female, 60

I recently retired from a major integrated oil company after 38 years. I have degrees in Civil and Petroleum Engineering. I worked with safety, health and environmental management systems and operations in the upstream (finding and producing oil and gas) and downstream (refining, chemicals and distributions) areas. I travelled all over world, enduring good & bad business cycles and good and bad managers.

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214 Questions


Last Answer on December 12, 2020

Best Rated

What is PET. E like? Do you often work at oil sites and outdoors? Please just describe the work experience both inside the office and outside

Asked by Girl over 7 years ago

One of the things I like the most about Petroleum Engineering is the wide variety of things you might end up doing.  Starting out, you need to spend a fair amount of time in the field to learn how things really work.  I recommend that everyone get some experience in either drilling, workovers, completions or surface facilities (processing units or small gas plants).  When I have worked in those types of assignments, I typically spend about 25% to 40% of my days at the site and the remainder in the office.  This may make me sound ancient, but we did not have laptops or even desktops back then, so there were some things that had to be done back at the office.  These days, some of the new engineers spend 75% or 80% of their time in the field.  After getting a good 4 or 5 years of field experience, you will either be ready to move into management or take a broadening assignment in reservoir engineering.  When I worked as a reservoir engineer, I went to the field far less (maybe 10% of the time), BUT by that time, I knew a lot of the field personnel, so it was easy to call them on the phone, understand what they were doing and get the information I needed.  As a reservoir engineer, you have a lot more influence on what gets done.  Reservoir engineers (along with geologists) make the proposals to management on which wells to drill or workover, whether to shut in or abandon a well, lay a pipeline, etc.  So although you are stuck at a desk, you have more of a long term, business focus.  Another thing that can really impact how much time you spend in the office vs the field is the type of fields that you are working.  If you are assigned to a complicated project, you might spend a lot of time in the planning phase (i.e. - a year or more in the office to plan a well  that will cost a hundred million dollars to drill and take several months).  If you are working on a mature field with uncomplicated wells and facilities, the planning phase will be much shorter.   No matter what job you have as a petroleum engineer, however, you need to enjoy working in teams with people of all different levels of experience and education.

I am currently a 3rd year student in Petroleum Engineering and the support group for PE majors at my University sucks! Im learning you dont have to have a PE to get a job in PE, so should I change my major?

Asked by Farhana over 7 years ago

Before switching majors, I would see if you can fix the situation.  if you switch majors, you might lose a lot of ground.  If your professors are decent and your program is accredited, I would work with some other students and approach your engineering dean and/or career placement with some proposed solutions.  Do you have a student section of SPE?  If not, consider chartering one;  see if you can get local professionals to come give lectures and help with resumes, interviewing and finding internships; ;  SPE might be able to connect you with a retired petroleum engineer who lives in your area that would be willing to help; consider some joint activities with geology majors;  if you are successful, you will have an impressive achievement for your résumé.  Future employers want to see that you take on a tough problem, show some creativity and solve it.  It is about more than just mastering the technical topics And getting good grades in your courses.  It is about showing that you can work with others and improve things.  Best of luck to you.

Thank you so much! We def have a great SPE ch; but the PE dept keeps snowballing students into taking extra sems by offering classes only once a yr & w/ intense prerequisites to the point where its like 18 hrs evry sem jus to grad timely. What to do?

Asked by Farhana over 7 years ago

This is a great opportunity for you to get some practice solving problems (like you will have to do every day as an engineer).  I suggest you team up with some other students and perhaps a sympathetic alumni or practicing engineer and propose a solution to the problem and meet with the administration.  Employers (and professors) don't want to hear "There's a problem and I'm not happy about it".  They want to hear "I think there's an opportunity to make some improvements and here are some potential solutions.  Can we explore this together?"  There may be some facts that you are not aware of and the administration may not be aware of the impact on their schedule decisions on the students.  Don't go into this assuming that they are trying to make this hard on you.  Go into with an open mind.  One of my favorite pieces of advice is the adage, "Grant me the courage to change what I can, the strength to endure what I cannot change and the wisdom to know the difference".  So, figure out what you might be able to change and if you can't change it or endure it, then switch to another program or university.  Good luck.

Do you feel the oil industry has good growth prospects for soon-to-be grads? I'm curious as my son's about to graduate with an engineering degree.

Asked by Helen almost 8 years ago

I think there is very good growth potential because there are a lot engineers in the industry in the 50 to 60 year age bracket who are getting ready to retire. Due to the cyclical nature of the oil business, there is not an even distribution of folks across all age ranges. People in our industry commonly talk about the "great crew change" that is coming and most of the major oil companies and large service companies have increased hiring in the last 5 years because they realize that ten engineers with 4 years of experience do not equal one engineer with 40 years of experience.

What the difference in majoring in Chemical engineering or Petroleum engineering? And what would you recommend?

Asked by Eli over 7 years ago

Chemical Engineering is going to focus on understanding chemical reactions used in industrial processes, how to optimize them, predict outcomes, understand potential hazards, etc.  Petroleum engineering will cover geology, well construction, estimating reserves, economics, some chemical reaction / surface facility design (but in less detail than in chemical engineering) and some tranportation/logistics.  Personally, I would recommend chemical engineering because it makes you appealing to a broader selection of jobs and companies.  However, if you KNOW you want to be in the Upstream Oil and Gas business OR if you know you want to go on to get a law degree and practice oil and gas law, then I would recommend Petroleum Engineering.    Starting salaries for Petroleum Engineers is hovering near the six figure mark right now, but Chemical Engineers are not very far behind.  After a few years on the job, that tends to even out and folks are paid based on their contributions not their degree.  Our business is cyclic and always has been.  The cycle is favorable right now BUT when there is a downturn, Petroleum Engineers are not in demand and the degree is not as favorable.  Upstream Oil and Gas companies will always want to hire and train chemical engineers but the reverse is not true - Chemical companies rarely want to hire and train Petroleum Engineers.  The ideal situation would be to get a chemical engineering degree and do internships at an Oil and Gas company to make sure this is the profession you want to pursue.

I am currently employed as a structural engineer with a consulting firm in New York w/3.5 years experience (B.S.C.E). Will getting a structural P.E. and a M.S. in PETE make me attractive to the O & G community? What opportunities would be available?

Asked by Bharring over 7 years ago

It depends on what you want to do in the oil and gas industry.  If you want to stay with structural engineering and work on designing platforms and the like, you would want a master's degree in Civil and you would likely be working for an Engineering & Construction (E&C) Firm and less likely to be working for a major integrated oil company.  If you wanted to work at a major integrated oil company and oversee the work being done by an E&C firm, that is also a possibility, but I think there are fewer jobs there and they are likely to hire an experienced person from an E&C firm.   If you want to get into the day to day operations, a BSCE plus an MS PetE will make you very attractive for a wide variety of entry level positions such as Drilling, Facilities Engineering, Reservoir Engineering and Subsurface Engineering.  There is a pretty large demand right now as the average age of our employees is getting pretty high and a shortage is predicted in the next few years.  Best of luck to you.

Thank u Mam..im doing my 12 grade in india(Chennai).im keen in pursing B.tech petroleum engineering wat s ur advice to take this course..is it worth Mam..?

Asked by sai darshan over 7 years ago

It depends quite a lot on where you intend to pursue a job and what your citizenship is.  I can really only speak for the situation in the USA. Having recruited for a major oil company before, I CAN tell you that US companies will rarely hire a foreign national and  sponsor him or her for US citizenship or a visa unless that a person has a PhD In a very specialized field of study.