Very few colleges offer petroleum engineering as a discipline of study; the number of petroleum engineering graduates are less than the number of jobs available; salaries are comparatively high too. It is these factors which make petroleum engineering a popular study option today.
Malaysian universities offer bachelor and master’s degrees in petroleum engineering to international students. A typical degree programme in this field focuses on equipping students with a foundation in petroleum chemistry, physics, maths, thermodynamics, drilling and their applications to petroleum technology.
Course curriculum consists of theory, practical engineering skills development and team work. The subjects generally covered by the course are varied and include physics, surface chemistry, geology, oil drilling, and reservoir simulation among others.
Petroleum engineering graduates conduct studies for the exploration, development, and extraction of oil and gas deposits. They plan, design, develop as well as supervise projects for the drilling, completion, and testing of oil and gas wells. Once the reservoirs are discovered, they work along with geologists and others to study the nature of the rock containing the reservoir, select the drilling methods to be used and monitor the production activities. In other words, a petroleum engineer in involved in almost all the stages of the production process, right from finding the resource to refining it and finally distributing it to the end consumer.
Graduates of petroleum engineering find employment opportunities in oil and gas extraction, oil companies, refinery plants, independent oil exploration, production, and service companies. They work as oil and gas drilling engineers, petroleum engineers; completion petroleum engineers, oil and gas production engineers, petroleum reservoir engineers, or sub sea engineers.
They also work on designing tools and operation procedures in order to gain efficiency in the recovery of oil and gas. Computers are used extensively by petroleum engineers in order to calculate the nest possible method of recovery of petroleum from different reservoirs. Models and designs of drilling and other equipment are also simulated on computers.
The challenges most engineers face today is to increase the quantity of recovery while reducing the costs involved. The ongoing research in this filed is aimed at developing and using advanced technology, designing tools and operation procedures for increased efficiency.
The demand for employment of petroleum engineers is quite naturally higher in places where oil and gas are located. Scope for employment is as good in the public sector as it is in the private sector.