What is Petroleum Engineering?

Petroleum engineering is the practical application of physics and mathematics (with some chemistry and geology) combined with engineering and economic principles to the recovery of petroleum (natural oil and gas).

Petroleum is used as an energy source for power generation and transportation and to create thousands of everyday products, from most plastics and synthetic textiles to cosmetics and even medicines.

Petroleum engineering

Careers in petroleum engineering

A degree in petroleum engineering can open the door to an exciting, challenging and rewarding career, with global demand for energy—and the multitude of everyday products that come from petroleum—continuing to increase. The petroleum engineering field is one of the highest paid internationally, and there is significant demand for highly-qualified graduates.

Petroleum engineers work all over the world, on land and offshore, to extract oil and gas supplies. Whatever the nature of the job, chances are you will be part of a multi-million dollar project, designing or using state-of-the-art technology. Petroleum engineers primarily work for:

  • public operator companies that find and produce petroleum (for example: Shell, Esso, Woodside, Chevron, Santos)
  • national operator companies that also find and produce petroleum (for example: Petronas, Saudi Aramco, Pertamina)
  • service companies that supply software, equipment, consultancy and field services to the operators (for example: Schlumberger, Halliburton, Baker Hughes)
  • many smaller finders and operators, specialist or niche service companies and consultants
  • government departments responsible for development of a country or state's resources, performing research, or regulating the industry
  • banks and investment companies who fund major projects.

Many of our students and staff are also active in professional societies, including the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE), the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG), the Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG) and the Petroleum Exploration Society of Australia (PESA).