Drilling engineering is the science behind the wells that produce oil and gas. Drilling engineering involves the planning, costing, developing and supervising of oil and gas well operations. Drilling engineering usually involves temporarily intense projects related to well design, testing and completion. The science of drilling engineering is divided into the four different activities below.
Completion engineering concerns the development of plans to improve the production from gas and oil wells. Completion engineers design, monitor and report on the installation of wells. They devise and discuss ways and methods to improve oil and gas well production. Completion engineers must plan delivery timetables, track the movement of products through warehouses and monitor local stock and equipment levels. They oversee and coordinate the arrival of shipments in order to streamline operations. Completion engineers may work closely with supply chain managers and even supervise warehouse staff. Completion engineering requires travel to offshore and remote locations.
Operational engineers are responsible for day-to-day well planning and installation operations. They may work specifically with corporate testing, safety, environmental and industry standards programs. Operational engineers ensure that data is accurately collected in order to present professional reports to clients and management. They usually liaison with the onshore operations supervisor to ensure they are fully aware of ongoing or upcoming issues.
They may attend pre- and post-test meetings with clients and sometimes direct on-site client tours. Operational engineers sometimes conduct company health and safety training while also reviewing and updating policies and procedures. Operational engineers work directly with production engineers.
A production engineer designs and selects the tools and equipment that will cause the well to produce oil and gas after drilling. They usually have an academic background in mechanical and geosystems engineering. Production engineers coordinate the purchase, installation, maintenance and operation of the mining or oilfield equipment. They may even manage the interconnected operations between the well and the reservoir using things like sand control, artificial lifts and special hole controls. During this time, they inspect the well to ensure that oil or gas is safely and optimally flowing. They are expected to recommend modifications to maximize the efficiency of oil and gas recovery while maintaining economic viability.
Reservoir engineering involves the assessments of oil and gas deposits. Reservoir engineers are the professionals who estimate the potential size of the reservoir in order to determine how much oil and gas is available. Based on their calculations, they decide how to maximize the return on interest and operational efficiency. Because it’s almost always impossible physically view subsurface fluids, reservoir engineers must work together with geologists, geo-hydrologists and geosystems engineers to accurately locate the oil and gas reserves through the advanced laws of physics and chemistry. They may conduct experiments involving the study of the behavioral effects of oil, water and natural gas in rocky subsurface settings.
Anyone who wants to become a drilling engineer will most likely need to pursue a degree in petroleum engineering, which will cover the principles of science, engineering and mathematics as they relate to oil and gas drilling, production and maintenance. These degrees may include courses in mechanics, geostatistics, well testing, hydro-geology and thermodynamics. These degrees will probably include classes on project and drilling operations management.