These comprise two main groups – petroleum and reservoir engineers. Many companies use those two labels in different ways. The description here tries to simplify the roles. Many subsurface engineers change their focus between reservoir and petroleum engineering during their careers others remain within one discipline. Whilst practioners can work across the value chain, most work in the post discovery activities of appraisal, development and production.
At postgraduate Level there are a number of reservoir and petroleum engineering Masters programmes. Imperial College and Heriot-Watt are probably the best known and well established. There are now beginning to appear a few undergraduate petroleum or reservoir engineering programmes. These are not essential for entry into the industry. A good and strong engineering and science background is essential.
These typically focus on the management or reservoirs assessing how field will perform and predicting well rates and production profiles. They are often experts in simulating field or reservoir performance. They look at the full field life.
These typically focus on short term production and subsurface operational issues in producing fields. They investigate means of optimising well management and short term production in a reservoir or field. They are often operationally focused and may work on site in fields and wells.
Typical entry route
Subsurface engineers need a strong scientific background including a maths based subject. At undergraduate level individuals will have a strong and well qualified track record in basic and applied science subjects.