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Article: Oil and Gas Production


This article covers the following jobs:

  • Chemical Engineer
  • Chemical Plant Process Operator
  • Fuel and Energy Engineer
  • Gas Engineer
  • Geological Technician
  • Geologist
  • Geophysicist
  • Offshore Engineer
  • Oil Driller.

The job descriptions are only a brief summary. It is recommended that you do further research on jobs that interest you.


Oil and gas may be found in deposits many thousands of metres underground and under the seabed. They are extracted by drilling holes in the surrounding rocks.

The oil or gas generally rises to the surface because it's under pressure but sometimes it needs to be pumped out. Finding the exact location of a new reserve means recognising the signs that indicate the presence of oil or gas.


Geophysicists study the physical structure and workings of the Earth. This includes the Earth's origin and evolution, gravity and radioactivity, and motion within the planet's core.

Many geophysicists work for companies that find and extract natural resources, such as oil, gas, metals and minerals. They travel to areas where they think these resources are, collecting data to confirm their predictions, and advising if the area is suitable for exploration.

To locate resources, geophysicists can use techniques such as seismic surveys, aerial photography and satellite images.

To become a geophysicist, you usually need a degree in geophysics or a closely-related subject. Many entrants also have a postgraduate qualification.


Geologists study the origins, structure and evolution of the Earth. They examine rocks, crystals, fluids, sediments and fossils, and find out how they formed and developed.

Many geologists work for oil, mining and specialist survey companies, using their knowledge to find and extract natural resources such as oil, coal, water and uranium.

They understand how these resources are formed, and where they are likely to be found. In oil and gas exploration, geologists must be confident that they have found the right area before drilling begins.

To become a geologist, you usually need a degree in geology, geoscience or earth science. Many entrants also have a postgraduate qualification.

Geological Technician

Geological technicians help and support geologists. In exploration, technicians analyse minerals and rocks brought back by geologists from areas where oil or gas may be found.

Technicians use specialist equipment to help with testing, and computers to produce graphs, charts and maps. Sometimes, they do their own experiments and interpret the results.

Geological technicians help geologists in fieldwork, for example, by collecting and recording mineral and rock samples.

They help teachers and researchers in university and museum education departments, producing aids such as maps and charts, and photographs of fossils and rocks.

The usual minimum entry requirement is four GCSEs at grade C or above, including English, Maths and a science subject. However, many technicians have higher qualifications such as A levels, HNDs/HNCs and degrees.


Once a site containing oil, gas or minerals has been found, the process of extraction begins. Jobs in oil and gas extraction often involve living on a rig - the structure where the drilling takes place.

Oil Driller

Oil drillers control and supervise the operation of the drilling equipment that is used on oil and gas rigs. The drill is connected to several sections of pipe, which are joined together to form a string. This means that drillers can raise and lower the drill into the hole.

Oil drillers supervise the work of roughnecks (who operate the drill) and derrickmen/women (who look after the drill pipe). They also make sure that the drill is rotating at the right speed, and record how the drilling operation is progressing.

There are no minimum academic requirements to enter this career. People usually start off as roustabouts (general labourers) and then work their way up.

Offshore Engineer

Offshore engineers find economical and environmentally safe ways to extract oil and gas from natural reservoirs beneath the seabed. There are several different types of offshore engineer.

Some engineers design the offshore rigs using computer-aided design (CAD) technology.

Reservoir engineers are responsible for maximising oil or gas production, as well as making sure production is economical.

Drilling engineers draw up plans for the drilling operations and supervise the drilling crew.

Production engineers monitor the wells and recommend ways to increase the efficiency of the production.

The usual entry requirement is a relevant degree or HND.

Gas Engineer

Gas engineers have a wide variety of roles, although some specialise in the exploration, transmission, distribution or use of gas.

Gas engineers who specialise in exploration, design, construct and maintain terminals, equipment and facilities used to extract and store gas.

Transportation and distribution involves pipeline design and maintenance. Gas supply engineers control the gas flow.

The usual requirement for this career is a relevant degree or HND.


The oil and gas that comes out of the ground needs processing before it can be used.

Crude oil, for example, can be broken down into petrol, diesel oil and lubricant oil. Gas must be separated from any liquid that has come up to the surface with it.

The oil and gas is transported from a rig, either by pipe or tanker, to a place called a refinery, where it is processed.

Chemical Engineer

Chemical engineers understand how to change the chemical, biochemical or physical state of a substance to create fuels and products that we need, want or depend on, including oil and gas, drugs and medicines, food and drink, artificial fibres and plastics.

Chemical engineers design and operate the processes by which these products are developed, taking into account factors such as cost, safety and the need to protect the environment.

The usual requirement for this career is a relevant degree or HND, such as chemical engineering.

Chemical Plant Process Operator

Chemical plant process operators monitor the equipment and machinery used to make chemical products.

They may be responsible for starting up and shutting down the control process. Once the process has begun, they check the meters, clocks and gauges that provide information on how the process is going.

They clean and prepare equipment, as well as measure out and prepare chemicals before adding them to reaction vessels. Operators often carry out simple maintenance tasks and adjust pumps and controls.

There is no formal academic entry requirement. Generally, employers want to see evidence of basic literacy and number skills. They may ask for GCSEs, including Maths and a science, technology or engineering subject.

Fuel and Energy Engineer

Fuel and energy engineers research and develop ways to improve the use of energy and to minimise environmental damage from its conversion into usable forms.

Many industries employ them to assess environmental impact and to manage energy usage. They may also work in fuel production industries, manufacturing companies (boilers, furnaces, gas turbines and engines), or as consultants.

The usual requirement for this career is a relevant degree or HND.

Further Information

Engineering Council

Address: 246 High Holborn, London WC1V 7EX

Tel: 020 3206 0500


Geological Society

Address: Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1J 0BG

Tel: 020 7434 9944


Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology (IMarEST)

Address: Aldgate House, 33 Aldgate High Street, London EC3N 1EN

Tel: 020 7382 2600



Energy Institute

Address: 61 New Cavendish Street, London W1G 7AR

Tel: 020 7467 7100



Mennta Energy Solutions

Formerly The Oxford Princeton Programme

Address: 1st Floor, 59 St Aldates, Oxford OX1 1ST

Tel: 01865 250521



Maritime UK Careers

Tel: 020 7417 2837




Tel: 01224 787830



Publisher: OPITO



Petroleum Open Learning (POL)

Scottish enquiries

Address: Minerva House, Bruntland Road, Portlethen, Aberdeen AB12 4QL

Tel: 01224 787813



Marine Scientist

Publisher: Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology (IMarEST)


Utility Week

Publisher: Faversham House


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