- Design equipment to extract oil and gas in the most profitable way
- Develop ways to inject water, chemicals, gases, or steam into an oil reserve to force out more of the oil
- Develop plans to drill in oil and gas fields, and then to recover the oil and gas
- Make sure that wells, well testing, and well surveys are completed and evaluated
- Use computer-controlled drilling or fracturing to connect a larger area of an oil and gas deposit to a single well
- Make sure that oil field equipment is installed, operated, and maintained properly
Oil and gas deposits, or reservoirs, are located deep in rock formations underground. These reservoirs can only be accessed by drilling wells, either on land or at sea from off-shore oil rigs.
Once oil and gas are discovered, petroleum engineers work with geologists and other specialists to understand the geologic formation of the rock containing the reservoir. They then determine drilling methods, design and implement the drilling equipment, and monitor operations.
The best techniques currently being used recover only a portion of the oil and gas in a reservoir, so petroleum engineers also research and develop new ways to recover the oil and gas. This helps to lower the cost of drilling and production.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition