Career opportunities in India and abroad are expected to be good for Petroleum Engineers-whether they work with drilling equipment, on production facilities, with computer models of reservoirs, or with sophisticated instrumentation & control equipment. In India, specifically, stress is likely to be on the revitalization of ageing fields, re-estimation of basic field parameters with new technology, and intensified application of modern technology.
Specialization Streams in BTech (Petroleum Engineering)
Oil and gas production can be sub-divided into several broad fields of science and technology:
Geosciences and Reservoir Engineering help us to discover, understand and model basic reservoir & flow parameters in fields, with the aim of extracting hydrocarbons.
Reservoir Engineering and Production Engineering-including drilling-help us to achieve production from wells in an economically efficient manner.
Production Engineering-in another important aspect-deals with the surface gathering and transportation of hydrocarbons, marking the end of so-called ‘upstream’ activity.
Reservoir Engineering can be defined as the art of development and exploitation of oil and gas fields, in a manner to get maximum recovery at minimum cost, through the application of knowledge of geological events and physical laws of fluid flow. Solution of reservoir engineering problems often requires innovative thinking, and the application of integrated knowledge of physics, mathematics, geo-sciences and engineering.
Today in India, basic reservoir management decisions must be taken in the context of the New Exploration Policy of the country. With this policy, more and more companies are joining conventional oil and gas exploration business including coal bed methane.
Operation & Production
Operation & Production stream is concerned with activities starting with well construction-drilling & completion-to the production & processing of hydrocarbons, while satisfying at all times the necessary health, safety and environmental norms. This entire activity chain requires well-engineered & meticulous planning, so as to invite least intervention through the production cycle, to remain cost effective and safe, even with the growing complexity and power of modern technology. Another aspect of their work is intuitiveness to diagnose well and field production problems and efficient means to carry out the required remedial measures.
Work activity is operational in nature, relies totally on field work, and is physically demanding. Operations and production personnel make up about half the workforce in a typical E&P company.
Instrumentation & Control
Over the last fifty years or so, modern instrumentation and control techniques have transformed oil and gas technology beyond recognition. Examples may be cited of sophisticated well-logging, centralized supervisory & control systems, and remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) used in deep sea production. These instrumentation and control techniques make use of electronic and electrical components, and therefore the basic principles related to these subjects are taught to all students in the second year of the BTech degree programme.
Students opting for specialization in Instrumentation and Control study several further courses related to electronics, well-logging instrumentation, and production instrumentation. Examples of application of such modern technology are: Directional well operations with digital telemetry instrumentation support, sub-sea completions & ROV operations in deep water finds, and pipeline grid and LNG terminals for natural gas utilization.
Modeling & Virtual Reality
Modern computer technology–with its huge processing, storage and graphics capability - has enhanced tremendously the engineer’s powers of simulation. When computer simulation begins to mimic real-world phenomena, the resulting system is known as a ‘virtual reality’ system. A flight simulator for an aircraft is an obvious example of such a system, but clearly such systems can also be applied to the modeling of hydrocarbon reservoirs in exploration, development, production phases. To understand the principles underlying such systems, students study courses such as 3-D modeling of structures, and simulation technology.
Applications of such technology may be found in the revitalization of old fields, horizontal and drain hole completions, implementation of field-wide integrated production model and asset management system through SCADA-DCS networking.