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Become A Reservoir Engineer

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Working As A Reservoir Engineer

  • Getting Information
  • Interacting With Computers
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Analyzing Data or Information
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Mostly Sitting

  • Make Decisions

  • $86,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Reservoir Engineer Do

Petroleum engineers design and develop methods for extracting oil and gas from deposits below the Earth’s surface. Petroleum engineers also find new ways to extract oil and gas from older wells.

Duties

Petroleum engineers typically do the following:

  • Design equipment to extract oil and gas in the most profitable way
  • Develop ways to inject water, chemicals, gases, or steam into an oil reserve to force out more oil
  • Develop plans to drill in oil and gas fields, and then to recover the oil and gas
  • Evaluate the production of wells through testing and surveys
  • Use computer-controlled drilling or fracturing to connect a larger area of an oil and gas deposit to a single well
  • Make sure that oil field equipment is installed, operated, and maintained properly

Oil and gas deposits, or reservoirs, are located deep in rock formations underground. These reservoirs can only be accessed by drilling wells, either on land or at sea from offshore oil rigs.

Once oil and gas are discovered, petroleum engineers work with geoscientists and other specialists to understand the geologic formation of the rock containing the reservoir. They then determine the drilling methods, design the drilling equipment, implement the drilling plan, and monitor operations.

The best techniques currently being used recover only a portion of the oil and gas in a reservoir, so petroleum engineers also research and develop new ways to recover more of the oil and gas. This helps to lower the cost of drilling and production.

The following are examples of types of petroleum engineers:

Completions engineers decide the best way to finish building wells so that oil or gas will flow up from underground. They oversee work to complete the building of wells, which might involve the use of tubing, hydraulic fracturing, or pressure-control techniques.

Drilling engineers determine the best way to drill oil or gas wells, taking into account a number of factors, including cost. They also ensure that the drilling process is safe, efficient, and minimally disruptive to the environment.

Production engineers take over wells after drilling is completed. They typically monitor wells’ oil and gas production. If wells are not producing as much as expected, production engineers figure out ways to increase the amount being extracted.

Reservoir engineers estimate how much oil or gas can be recovered from underground deposits, known as reservoirs. They study reservoirs’ characteristics and determine which methods will get the most oil or gas out of them. They also monitor operations to ensure that the optimal levels of these resources are being recovered.

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How To Become A Reservoir Engineer

Petroleum engineers must have a bachelor’s degree in engineering, preferably in petroleum engineering. However, a bachelor’s degree in mechanical or chemical engineering may also meet employer requirements. Employers also value work experience, so college cooperative-education programs, in which students earn academic credit and job experience, are valuable as well.

Education

Students interested in studying petroleum engineering will benefit from taking high school courses in math, such as algebra, trigonometry, and calculus; and in science, such as biology, chemistry, and physics.

Entry-level petroleum engineering jobs require a bachelor's degree. Bachelor's degree programs include classes, laboratory work, and field studies in areas such as engineering principles, geology, and thermodynamics. Most colleges and universities offer cooperative programs in which students gain practical experience while completing their education.

Some colleges and universities offer 5-year programs in chemical or mechanical engineering that lead to both a bachelor’s degree and a master's degree. Some employers may prefer applicants who have earned a graduate degree. A graduate degree also allows an engineer to work as an instructor at some universities or in research and development.

ABET accredits programs in petroleum engineering.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Petroleum engineers must be able to assess complex plans for drilling and anticipate possible flaws or complications before the company commits money and people to a project.

Creativity. Petroleum engineers must come up with new ways to extract oil and gas because each new drill site presents challenges. They must know how to ask the necessary questions to find possible deposits of oil and gas.

Interpersonal skills. Petroleum engineers must work with others on projects that require highly expensive machinery, equipment, and infrastructure. Communicating and working well with others is crucial to protecting and preserving firms’ huge capital investments.

Math skills. Petroleum engineers use the principles of calculus and other advanced topics in math for analysis, design, and troubleshooting in their work.

Problem-solving skills. Identifying problems in drilling plans is critical for petroleum engineers because drilling operations can be costly. They must be careful not to overlook any potential issues and quickly address problems that do occur.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Licensure is not required for entry-level positions as a petroleum engineer. A Professional Engineering (PE) license, which allows for higher levels of leadership and independence, can be acquired later in one’s career. Licensed engineers are called professional engineers (PEs). A PE can oversee the work of other engineers, sign off on projects, and provide services directly to the public. State licensure generally requires

  • A degree from an ABET-accredited engineering program
  • A passing score on the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam
  • Relevant work experience, typically at least 4 years
  • A passing score on the Professional Engineering (PE) exam

The initial FE exam can be taken after one earns a bachelor’s degree. Engineers who pass this exam are commonly called engineers in training (EITs) or engineer interns (EIs). After meeting work experience requirements, EITs and EIs can take the second exam, called the Principles and Practice of Engineering.

Several states require engineers to take continuing education courses in order to keep their licenses. Most states recognize licensure from other states if the licensing state’s requirements meet or exceed their own licensure requirements.

The Society of Petroleum Engineers offers certification. To be certified, petroleum engineers must be members of the Society, pass an exam, and meet other qualifications.

Advancement

Entry-level engineers usually work under the supervision of experienced engineers. In large companies, new engineers also may receive formal training. As engineers gain knowledge and experience, they move to more difficult projects where they have greater independence to develop designs, solve problems, and make decisions.

Eventually, petroleum engineers may advance to supervise a team of engineers and technicians. Some become engineering managers or move into other managerial positions. For more information, see the profile on architectural and engineering managers.

Petroleum engineers also may go into sales and use their engineering background to inform the discussion of a product's technical aspects with potential buyers and help in product planning, installation, and use. For more information, see the profile on sales engineers.

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Reservoir Engineer Career Paths

Reservoir Engineer
Senior Staff Engineer
Principal Engineer
12 Yearsyrs
Senior Staff Engineer Principal Engineer Project Manager
Engineering Director
13 Yearsyrs
Senior Staff Engineer Principal Engineer Engineering Manager
Senior Engineering Manager
12 Yearsyrs
Team Leader Project Manager Engineering Director
Vice President Of Engineering
13 Yearsyrs
Team Leader Manager Production Manager
Engineering Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Team Leader Project Leader Senior Systems Engineer
Lead Engineer
7 Yearsyrs
Senior Production Engineer Senior Engineer Senior Project Engineer
Project Engineering Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Senior Production Engineer Senior Engineer Senior Mechanical Engineer
Lead Mechanical Engineer
8 Yearsyrs
Senior Production Engineer Senior Engineer
Engineering Supervisor
6 Yearsyrs
Project Manager Development Manager Engineering Manager
Engineering Operations Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Manager Owner/Operator Construction Manager
Design Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Manager Vice President Vice President Of Engineering
Senior Vice President, Engineering
15 Yearsyrs
Senior Engineer
7 Yearsyrs
Vice President Of Engineering Operations Vice President
Vice President Of Operations And Engineering
15 Yearsyrs
Engineering Supervisor Senior Project Engineer Senior Applications Engineer
Applications Engineering Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Engineering Supervisor Senior Project Engineer Lead Engineer
Team Lead Engineer
5 Yearsyrs
Engineering Supervisor Senior Systems Engineer Lead Engineer
Senior Engineering Technician
8 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Reservoir Engineer?

Average Yearly Salary
$86,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$50,000
Min 10%
$86,000
Median 50%
$86,000
Median 50%
$86,000
Median 50%
$86,000
Median 50%
$86,000
Median 50%
$86,000
Median 50%
$86,000
Median 50%
$149,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Exxon Mobil
Highest Paying City
Anchorage, AK
Highest Paying State
Alaska
Avg Experience Level
4.7 years
How much does a Reservoir Engineer make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Reservoir Engineer in the United States is $87,069 per year or $42 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $50,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $150,000.

Real Reservoir Engineer Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Reservoir Engineer 6 Devon Energy Corporation Oklahoma City, OK Aug 20, 2015 $240,000
Senior Reservoir Engineer Venari Resources LLC Houston, TX Sep 09, 2015 $229,300 -
$255,100
Staff Reservoir Engineer Broken Hill Proprietary (USA), Inc. Houston, TX Mar 25, 2015 $228,112
Staff Reservoir Engineer Broken Hill Propriety (USA), Inc. Houston, TX Jan 12, 2015 $225,239
Reservoir Engineer Devon Energy Corp Oklahoma City, OK Feb 02, 2016 $225,000
Senior Reservoir Engineer Hunt Oil Company Dallas, TX Aug 02, 2016 $215,800 -
$225,800
Reservoir Engineer V SM Energy Company Denver, CO Sep 09, 2015 $210,000
Reservoir Engineer V SM Energy Company Midland, TX Sep 09, 2015 $210,000
Staff Reservoir Engineer Conocophillips Company Houston, TX Jul 06, 2016 $203,362 -
$220,000
Staff Reservoir Engineer Conocophillips Company Houston, TX Sep 21, 2015 $201,685
Reservoir Engineer Advisor Hess Corporation Houston, TX Oct 28, 2015 $197,954 -
$256,000
Senior Reservoir Engineer Anadarko Petroleum Corporation The Woodlands, TX Apr 07, 2015 $145,579
Senior Reservoir Engineer Hess Corporation Houston, TX Oct 09, 2016 $145,200
Senior Reservoir Engineer Anadarko Petroleum Corporation The Woodlands, TX Aug 20, 2015 $145,000
Senior Reservoir Engineer Murphy Exploration and Production Company Houston, TX Jul 24, 2016 $144,118
Senior Reservoir Engineer Occidental Oil and Gas Corporation Houston, TX Mar 18, 2016 $144,000
Reservoir Engineer Shell International Exploration and Production Inc. Houston, TX Oct 01, 2015 $143,600
Reservoir Engineer III Noble Energy, Inc. Houston, TX Jun 14, 2015 $143,500
Lead Reservoir Engineer Chevron Corporation Houston, TX May 08, 2016 $143,300
Reservoir Engineer BP America Inc. Houston, TX Aug 15, 2016 $127,700
Reservoir Engineer California Resources Corporation Long Beach, CA Oct 12, 2015 $127,500
Reservoir Engineer California Resources Corporation Long Beach, CA Apr 25, 2016 $127,500
CO2 Reservoir Engineer Resolute Energy Corporation Denver, CO Nov 14, 2016 $127,046
Reservoir Engineer Shell International Exploration and Production Inc. Houston, TX Aug 10, 2015 $127,000
Senior Reservoir Engineer Anadarko Petroleum Corporation The Woodlands, TX Feb 13, 2015 $127,000
Research Reservoir Engineer Total E&P USA, Inc. Houston, TX Sep 19, 2016 $126,500 -
$150,000

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Top Skills for A Reservoir Engineer

  1. Reservoir Characterization
  2. Development Plans
  3. Decline Curve Analysis
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Participated in integrated reservoir characterization studies and played a key role on building a reservoir parameters model using Petrel.
  • Provided full evaluation of development plans in order to optimize the production, including comparing alternatives from technical and economic aspects.
  • Conducted reservoir engineering analysis including decline curve analysis, production forecasting, pressure transient analysis and material balance.
  • Planned and directed development of a patented petroleum artificial intelligence, PVT analysis software for ARCO's domestic and international affiliates.
  • Well Test Analysis Studies and Simulation Studies of the different EOR methods which applicable for Gas and Gas Condensate Reservoirs.

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Top 10 Best States for Reservoir Engineers

  1. Alaska
  2. Texas
  3. Louisiana
  4. Nevada
  5. Connecticut
  6. Oklahoma
  7. Washington
  8. District of Columbia
  9. New Jersey
  10. California
  • (62 jobs)
  • (1,686 jobs)
  • (164 jobs)
  • (146 jobs)
  • (300 jobs)
  • (151 jobs)
  • (689 jobs)
  • (225 jobs)
  • (421 jobs)
  • (2,945 jobs)

Reservoir Engineer Demographics

Gender

Male

69.0%

Female

15.8%

Unknown

15.1%
Ethnicity

White

44.4%

Hispanic or Latino

19.2%

Asian

16.0%

Black or African American

10.7%

Unknown

9.6%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

37.5%

French

12.5%

Arabic

12.5%

German

7.1%

Portuguese

5.4%

Russian

5.4%

Hindi

3.6%

Dakota

3.6%

Urdu

3.6%

Bengali

3.6%

Persian

1.8%

Kazakh

1.8%

Italian

1.8%
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Reservoir Engineer Education

Schools

Texas A&M University

17.7%

University of Texas at Austin

11.2%

Colorado School of Mines

9.1%

University of Houston

7.7%

University of Oklahoma

6.8%

Texas Tech University

6.1%

University of Tulsa

5.1%

Pennsylvania State University

4.7%

Louisiana State University and A&M College

3.7%

University of Southern California

3.5%

West Virginia University

3.5%

Missouri University of Science and Technology

3.3%

New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology

3.3%

Stanford University

3.0%

University of Louisiana at Lafayette

2.8%

Marietta College

2.1%

Oklahoma State University

1.9%

University of Wyoming

1.9%

Louisiana Tech University

1.4%

University of Kansas

1.4%
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Majors

Petroleum Engineering

65.6%

Chemical Engineering

7.7%

Business

6.4%

Geology

2.8%

Mechanical Engineering

2.7%

Engineering

2.6%

Finance

1.6%

Management

1.0%

Computer Science

1.0%

Geological Engineering

1.0%

Civil Engineering

1.0%

Electrical Engineering

1.0%

Project Management

0.9%

Engineering And Industrial Management

0.9%

Environmental Engineering

0.9%

Legal Research And Advanced Professional Studies

0.7%

Mining Engineering

0.7%

Environmental Science

0.6%

Chemistry

0.6%

Physics

0.6%
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Degrees

Masters

41.6%

Bachelors

36.1%

Doctorate

13.3%

Other

7.3%

Certificate

1.2%

Diploma

0.4%

Associate

0.1%
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