Petroleum Engineering

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Petroleum Engineering

Petroleum Engineering

Petroleum Engineering is a process of maximizing oil and gas production.

The E&P companies apply Petroleum Engineering in gas and oilfields to maximize wells and reservoirs production by identifying and closing performance gaps by Gap Analysis.

Petroleum Engineering allows to produce wells and reservoirs at their potential in a most economical way while achieving maximum recovery.


  1. Assess current production performance. Get organized with the available production data.
  2. Calculate Production Potential and identify performance gaps in a form of Enhancement List.
  3. Close the performance gaps by executing identified Enhancements.
  4. Track the benefits achieved with Enhancement Tracking.

Such a workflow can be applied both on a well level and oilfield or pattern level.

Petroleum engineer task is to keep wells at potential and patterns balanced while management should be held accountable that the prescribed actions are implemented in a timely manner[1].

Routine execution of described workflow results in more production, improved recovery and increased earnings.

Production Potential


Petroleum engineering technology list for achieving Production Potential.

  1. Darcy's law
  2. Well Nodal Analysis
  3. Artificial Lift, especially Electrical Submersible Pumps
  4. Hydraulic fracturing
  5. Waterflooding

Oil and Gas production optimization challenges

The ideal, of producing and recovering at potential, is rarely obtained in practice. Reasons for this vary from company to company, but more often than not, the reason is well potentials are not known and therefore not managed. Maximizing production in such a companies will usually face a resistance in a form of excuses why not to increase production. Below are top 10.

IPR Curve reverses

Top 10 reasons why NOT to increase oil and gas production

  1. Can not produce below the bubble point: IPR curve reverses
  2. Pulling the chokes will make production decrease
  3. Water will break through sooner
  4. Facility is full
  5. We don't have big pumps
  6. It's on order but won't be here for at least 2 months
  7. FRACs go away
  8. Casing is too small
  9. Material balance does not work
  10. This physical law works good in the theory, but can not be applied to the real fields we have here.

More reasons are given here. Those challenges are not backed up with math and physics and can be overcome by petroleum engineering programs and courses held within the company.


To solve typical PE problems the following software can be used:

  • PVT software - create quick PVT model
  • PQplot - calculate Nodal Analysis on wells
  • sPipe - calculate the pressure drop in surface pipes
  • PhaseD - calculate phase diagram
  • optiFrac - define the optimal fracture geometry
  • optiFracMS - calculate the pumping schedule to achieve the target geometry
  • fracDesign - calculate the optimal number of fractures in horizontal well
  • pumpDesign - design a ESP to pump off the well
  • onPlan - fast planar fracture simulator can refine the design in complex scenarios

Career Advice

Advice on managing and being more successful with your petroleum engineering career[1]. This is a useful career advice for a student who is doing his petroleum engineering degree in a school, college, university or doing an internship. This is also helpful for practicing engineer as a reference and a source for new ideas to make a difference on their assignment and to increase salary.

  • Calculate Potential and be a Performance Engineer

Performance is defined as the quality of results compared to potential. Therefore, for any endeavor you undertake, if you want to speak about its performance you must know its potential. Calculate the potential whenever possible and determine performance gap by comparing actual results with potential[1].

  • Stop Complaining about No Data

You should practice showing value added opportunities with the data that is available. Special or additional data is justified on an as needed basis. If more data is needed then show what opportunity is created and how a decision can be made by collecting the data[1].

  • Focus on Opportunities and Execution

Look first for the "quick-hit" opportunities. Focus on action not studies. Organize the identified opportunities on a enhancement list, calculate potential and rank them based on performance gap. Make a plan to close the performance gaps based on the opportunities identified, execute the plan and track the results. Engineers who work on opportunities develop a trait of making quicker decisions and accelerating the tempo of the organization, which translated into better performance[1].

  • Know-How or Technology what is most differential?

For the service companies its technology, for the oil companies its know-how. Work to develop individual know-how and expertise in your discipline. This is done by deliberately practicing your trade at ever increasing levels of difficulty. Push the limits of your knowledge and skills, routinely, and look for feedback from colleagues, management and professional societies[1].

Typical Petroleum Engineering Job Description


  • Keep wells at potential.
  • Evaluation of oil and gas well potential and preparation of enhancement lists.
  • Wells and reservoirs properties estimation: kh, JD, skin, Pres, OIIP, GIIP.
  • Making sure consistency of data from various sources (production, fracturing, well tests)
  • Identification well candidates for artificial lift. Design, execution, tracking.
  • Identification well candidates for hydraulic fracturing. Design, execution, tracking.
  • Evaluation of waterflood performance, dividing oilfield into pattens, keep patterns balanced.
  • Converting producing well to injector, shut in inefficient injection well, increase/decrease well injection rate, add/squeeze perforations at producing or injection wells.
  • Calculation of pipeline/facilities capacities.
  • Preparation of the long-term and short-term oiled gas production forecasts.
  • Preparation of well workover programs.
  • Development of well test programs.


  • Petroleum Engineering Degree, Math Degree, Physics Degree
  • Strong background in physics and maths
  • Basic programming skills
  • Analytical thinking

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Wolcott, Don (2009). Applied Waterflood Field DevelopmentPaid subscription required. Houston: Energy Tribune Publishing Inc.