Phlange
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Is it possible to get into reservoir engineering with a chemical engineering degree? What would be the best route to becoming a reservoir engineer?
I've just finished my AS Levels and unsure what degree to apply for. Currently chem eng seems to fit my interests best.
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abuzakariyya
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(Original post by Phlange)
Is it possible to get into reservoir engineering with a chemical engineering degree? What would be the best route to becoming a reservoir engineer?
I've just finished my AS Levels and unsure what degree to apply for. Currently chem eng seems to fit my interests best.
Yes chemical engineers can get into resevoir engineering. There is petroleum engineering as a degree, I think chem eng is better though as you have more options.
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Phlange
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(Original post by abuzakariyya)
Yes chemical engineers can get into resevoir engineering. There is petroleum engineering as a degree, I think chem eng is better though as you have more options.
Thats why I'm inclined to go for chem eng because it has more options. But would an employer go for a petroleum engineer over a chem engineer? Providing all other things are the same about each person.
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(Original post by Phlange)
Thats why I'm inclined to go for chem eng because it has more options. But would an employer go for a petroleum engineer over a chem engineer? Providing all other things are the same about each person.
I would say a general engineering degree (such as chemical) with a Petroleum or Reservoir Engineering masters is the most respected route, but it really doesn't make a big difference. I know plenty of petroleum engineers who are chemical engineers, or even mechanical engineers, aero engineers, mathematicians and physicists.
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Phlange
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(Original post by F1 fanatic)
I would say a general engineering degree (such as chemical) with a Petroleum or Reservoir Engineering masters is the most respected route, but it really doesn't make a big difference. I know plenty of petroleum engineers who are chemical engineers, or even mechanical engineers, aero engineers, mathematicians and physicists.
Thanks for your reply. Is it possible to get a placement as a reservoir engineer? I've been looking at the oil companies Shell, BP etc. but I can't seem to find much on the type of internships they have to offer. Do you enjoy reservoir engineering? Also, how quickly does your pay progress? I know starting is roughly £30k but after that, how quickly does it increase?
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(Original post by Phlange)
Thanks for your reply. Is it possible to get a placement as a reservoir engineer? I've been looking at the oil companies Shell, BP etc. but I can't seem to find much on the type of internships they have to offer. Do you enjoy reservoir engineering? Also, how quickly does your pay progress? I know starting is roughly £30k but after that, how quickly does it increase?
The likes of Shell and BP offer summer internships or shorter placements. There is usually information on internships on their website.

As for me, yes I enjoy my job. My degree was in physics so you can come at it from all sorts of angles.

Pay progress is obviously variable depending on performance and where you move to. The smaller operators tend to pay slightly better than the big operators in terms of base pay, but the overall package and opportunities may not quite be as good. It is reasonable to expect that you would be earning £50-75k base salary within 5-10 years. You may be interested in the SPE's annual worldwide salary survey:

http://www.spe.org/industry/docs/13S...Highlights.pdf
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Phlange
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(Original post by F1 fanatic)
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So as someone who is strongly considering a career in reservoir engineering, what advice could you give? I know its still early for me but I like to plan. I hope to get a placement during university, so if I'm unable to get a placement as a reservoir engineer would a year in industry as a process engineer help my application for when I apply for a graduate job as a reservoir engineer?
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(Original post by Phlange)
So as someone who is strongly considering a career in reservoir engineering, what advice could you give? I know its still early for me but I like to plan. I hope to get a placement during university, so if I'm unable to get a placement as a reservoir engineer would a year in industry as a process engineer help my application for when I apply for a graduate job as a reservoir engineer?
At this stage there probably isn't a great deal of non-obvious advice to give.

Try to do a solid degree that will provide you with a broad range of options in the future, as personally I wouldn't want to specialize too early. Anything in engineering, maths and the physical sciences will give you a good grounding for reservoir engineering. Work hard to get a good degree classification, as most companies will require at least a 2:1.

Any work experience in engineering will be beneficial, so if it interests you then I certainly think a year in industry would be a great experience to have, whatever the field of engineering. Of course if you happen to be able to get specific work experience in the industry then so much the better. Finally, a good reservoir engineer should also have a working knowledge of geology. Should the opportunity ever arise to learn a bit more about geology through course modules or through your own reading then you may find it helpful.

Above all, while you should keep one eye on a future career, make sure you enjoy the here and now as well. University is a great experience and not one that you should let pass you by!
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Phlange
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(Original post by F1 fanatic)
At this stage there probably isn't a great deal of non-obvious advice to give.

Try to do a solid degree that will provide you with a broad range of options in the future, as personally I wouldn't want to specialize too early. Anything in engineering, maths and the physical sciences will give you a good grounding for reservoir engineering. Work hard to get a good degree classification, as most companies will require at least a 2:1.

Any work experience in engineering will be beneficial, so if it interests you then I certainly think a year in industry would be a great experience to have, whatever the field of engineering. Of course if you happen to be able to get specific work experience in the industry then so much the better. Finally, a good reservoir engineer should also have a working knowledge of geology. Should the opportunity ever arise to learn a bit more about geology through course modules or through your own reading then you may find it helpful.

Above all, while you should keep one eye on a future career, make sure you enjoy the here and now as well. University is a great experience and not one that you should let pass you by!
You're the first reservoir engineer I've come across, so I'm really glad you came across this thread. Thanks a million for all your help! Best of luck for your future x
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(Original post by Phlange)
You're the first reservoir engineer I've come across, so I'm really glad you came across this thread. Thanks a million for all your help! Best of luck for your future x
You're welcome, all the best to you too
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(Original post by F1 fanatic)
I would say a general engineering degree (such as chemical) with a Petroleum or Reservoir Engineering masters is the most respected route, but it really doesn't make a big difference. I know plenty of petroleum engineers who are chemical engineers, or even mechanical engineers, aero engineers, mathematicians and physicists.
F1 fanatic I'm on exactly the path described (generic, petroleum). What advantage does this route have over the others? Out of reservoir, production and drilling, how would you rank demand? We'd all benefit if you can rank this based on a) industry shortage, b) student's/graduates' current preferences.
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(Original post by oiler_051)
F1 fanatic I'm on exactly the path described (generic, petroleum). What advantage does this route have over the others? Out of reservoir, production and drilling, how would you rank demand? We'd all benefit if you can rank this based on a) industry shortage, b) student's/graduates' current preferences.
It has the advantage that having a general degree gives you a broad and strong base in science/engineering while a masters gives you exposure to the specific requirements of the oil industry and reservoir engineering in particular. On a personal career level, I think there is a lot to be said for staying general for as long as possible because it provides a lot more flexibility to enter many different career paths. Often a masters course will give exposure to things that you wouldn't cover in the early part of a career such as building your own reservoir simulator and the more academic side of the subject, which you don't really do as part of the day job.

There is a demand in all technical areas that you mention, partly because of the nature of the demographic over the whole industry. A lot of people who joined the industry in the boom years of the 60s and 70s are now retiring which is creating demand for people. I cannot give you a definitive answer on the relative demands of different areas because I don't closely follow the job market in areas outside of reservoir engineering. I would say as a general rule that drilling and reservoir engineering tends to be slightly better paid than operations/production.
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(Original post by F1 fanatic)
It has the advantage that having a general degree gives you a broad and strong base in science/engineering while a masters gives you exposure to the specific requirements of the oil industry and reservoir engineering in particular. On a personal career level, I think there is a lot to be said for staying general for as long as possible because it provides a lot more flexibility to enter many different career paths. Often a masters course will give exposure to things that you wouldn't cover in the early part of a career such as building your own reservoir simulator and the more academic side of the subject, which you don't really do as part of the day job.

There is a demand in all technical areas that you mention, partly because of the nature of the demographic over the whole industry. A lot of people who joined the industry in the boom years of the 60s and 70s are now retiring which is creating demand for people. I cannot give you a definitive answer on the relative demands of different areas because I don't closely follow the job market in areas outside of reservoir engineering. I would say as a general rule that drilling and reservoir engineering tends to be slightly better paid than operations/production.
Thanks and agreed, you raised a good point about flexibility. From your perspective, what are the exit opportunities of a reservoir engineering after many years of experience? Also, I understand there are 2 types of reservoir engineers - the traditional new field development type and the ones which optimises production from existing fields. Is it true in the UK the majority of reservoir engineers is increasingly of the second type due to aging fields in the N. Sea? Finally, how much relocation is involved for drilling and reservoir engineers? I've heard drilling engineers can be relocated many times within a year at the fields while reservoir engineers tend to be posted overseas for a few years at a time early on in their career - and only 1% of their time is spent at the field.
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(Original post by oiler_051)
Thanks and agreed, you raised a good point about flexibility. From your perspective, what are the exit opportunities of a reservoir engineering after many years of experience? Also, I understand there are 2 types of reservoir engineers - the traditional new field development type and the ones which optimises production from existing fields. Is it true in the UK the majority of reservoir engineers is increasingly of the second type due to aging fields in the N. Sea? Finally, how much relocation is involved for drilling and reservoir engineers? I've heard drilling engineers can be relocated many times within a year at the fields while reservoir engineers tend to be posted overseas for a few years at a time early on in their career - and only 1% of their time is spent at the field.
I don't know of many individuals who have left the oil industry to move into other areas, but I imagine that the analytical skills would be welcome elsewhere. The majority of people seem to stay in the industry for their whole career in some capacity. Some move into management or even commercial roles, but at the moment with the demand in the industry I don't get the impression that there are many people leaving the sector altogether. A lot of the work of a reservoir engineer is in computer modelling, fluid flow and risk management and there's plenty of other areas where one or more of those skills would be beneficial. I have 6 years experience myself, so perhaps I can better answer that question in 5-10 years!

In terms of the types of reservoir engineer, I think you could identify 3 or 4 different types of role. First off it depends to what extent you consider reservoir engineering to be different from petroleum engineering. The North Sea is a mature basin and so there is a lot of focus on well management and production optimisation. That could be offshore or onshore support. In addition there is still a big place for the RE in long term planning and resource progression within the North Sea, even within a mature field environment. There also continues to be investment in new developments within the North Sea, so there is still a place for the green field development and planning that you mention. Finally, there are specialist reservoir engineering roles in technology and data acquisition, such as coreflood specialists or technology R&D. None of these role types are exclusive incidentally, they are just different aspects of a reservoir engineer's job. I have worked across all 4 of these areas in my 6 years in the industry.

In terms of relocation, there is usually some requirement to be flexible on location, particularly in the early part of a career. Drillers and operations folk may typically see more of this, but I have friends who are reservoir engineers who do rotational operations roles internationally. Typically it is these types of roles that are available early in a career, with longer international secondments usually seeking 5-10 years experience. There is a lot of demand for experienced reservoir engineers in the Middle East in particular at the moment. How much is expected of you will depend on who you work for, and what you are looking for. The service companies will generally place a higher requirement on your flexibility and expect a greater proportion of your time spent working overseas than the big operators. As an RE working for an operator, very little of my time is spent in the field. I have been offshore for a few weeks and done a few business trips internationally, but it is not a part of my regular day job.
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(Original post by F1 fanatic)
I don't know of many individuals who have left the oil industry to move into other areas, but I imagine that the analytical skills would be welcome elsewhere. The majority of people seem to stay in the industry for their whole career in some capacity. Some move into management or even commercial roles, but at the moment with the demand in the industry I don't get the impression that there are many people leaving the sector altogether. A lot of the work of a reservoir engineer is in computer modelling, fluid flow and risk management and there's plenty of other areas where one or more of those skills would be beneficial. I have 6 years experience myself, so perhaps I can better answer that question in 5-10 years!

In terms of the types of reservoir engineer, I think you could identify 3 or 4 different types of role. First off it depends to what extent you consider reservoir engineering to be different from petroleum engineering. The North Sea is a mature basin and so there is a lot of focus on well management and production optimisation. That could be offshore or onshore support. In addition there is still a big place for the RE in long term planning and resource progression within the North Sea, even within a mature field environment. There also continues to be investment in new developments within the North Sea, so there is still a place for the green field development and planning that you mention. Finally, there are specialist reservoir engineering roles in technology and data acquisition, such as coreflood specialists or technology R&D. None of these role types are exclusive incidentally, they are just different aspects of a reservoir engineer's job. I have worked across all 4 of these areas in my 6 years in the industry.

In terms of relocation, there is usually some requirement to be flexible on location, particularly in the early part of a career. Drillers and operations folk may typically see more of this, but I have friends who are reservoir engineers who do rotational operations roles internationally. Typically it is these types of roles that are available early in a career, with longer international secondments usually seeking 5-10 years experience. There is a lot of demand for experienced reservoir engineers in the Middle East in particular at the moment. How much is expected of you will depend on who you work for, and what you are looking for. The service companies will generally place a higher requirement on your flexibility and expect a greater proportion of your time spent working overseas than the big operators. As an RE working for an operator, very little of my time is spent in the field. I have been offshore for a few weeks and done a few business trips internationally, but it is not a part of my regular day job.
Great insight into the different functions of a reservoir engineer and career path - much appreciated. Additionally, in terms of the "core" responsibilities of reservoir simulations, how is the approach conducted on a day to day basis? Apart from running Petrel, Eclipse, Frontsim etc. how much time does one spend on ad-hoc coding/programming, Excel data analysis, research etc? Does one handle one project at a time, or juggle multiple? Is there a lot of interaction with Geologists? Please enlighten us of a typical work day!
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(Original post by oiler_051)
Great insight into the different functions of a reservoir engineer and career path - much appreciated. Additionally, in terms of the "core" responsibilities of reservoir simulations, how is the approach conducted on a day to day basis? Apart from running Petrel, Eclipse, Frontsim etc. how much time does one spend on ad-hoc coding/programming, Excel data analysis, research etc? Does one handle one project at a time, or juggle multiple? Is there a lot of interaction with Geologists? Please enlighten us of a typical work day!
I would describe reservoir simulation as a tool rather than the core responsibility of an RE in itself. Sure, the RE is typically the custodian of the dynamic reservoir model but it is for a wider purpose of optimising field development and maximising economic recovery of hydrocarbons. I would describe that as the core responsibility and reservoir simulation is one tool we use, but there is very much a place for classical and often Excel based RE techniques such as material balance, pressure transient analysis, Dietz and fractional flow analysis etc. I probably spend more of my time doing data analysis in Excel than I do within the simulator itself, both to sense check the model and also to interpret the results. There is some ad-hoc programming but it is not extensive and is primarily business driven to make a repetitive task simpler and quicker. Most of the work is using the existing structure within the existing commercial simulators.

It is hard to describe a typical day or a typical way of working or the level of interaction because it will vary significantly depending on the specific role and the company that you work for. For the sake of argument lets take a stereotypical role working on a producing field within a subsurface or reservoir management team. Typically as a reservoir engineer you will interact on a day to day basis with geologists and geophysicists in additional to working closely with drillers and operations folk. There will usually be many different activities ongoing. There will almost certainly be short term needs such as working with operations to help define operating limits for wells, injection strategy and to agree on any surveillance that should be collected (e.g. well-testing). In addition if there is an active drilling programme there may be RE representation in daily rig updates or more long term as part of well planning to provide profiles and identify reservoir risks. These interactions will typically be through meetings and may take up a couple of hours per day.

Alongside these ad-hoc interactions to support other areas the primary focus of the subsurface team will be more long term focused, perhaps looking at future well targets and opportunity progression, or evaluating the best way to deplete a field in terms of number of wells and recovery mechanism (depletion, aquifer drive, waterflood, EOR etc). As a team we look to increase field recovery factors and accelerate oil production. A significant tool to facilitate this is the reservoir model so there will be many integrated conversations between the REs and the Geos to understand the reservoir description. They will pass us a static description and we will use Eclipse or another commercial simulator to build a dynamic reservoir model, history match it to calibrate the model to past performance and then run it forward into prediction to test different sensitivities. There is a lot of focus on uncertainty and risk management. There are a lot of unknowns and the subsurface is inherently uncertain, so it is our responsibility to communicate the uncertainties and risks to managers and decision makers when they are deciding whether to put up the capital investment to drill new wells, make facilities modifications or build whole new field developments.
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