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Question
I am writing to adquire advice in rewards of a career in petroleum engineering. I am a first year A level student studying maths, physics and chemistry in the UK.
In summer 2013 to Paraguay my home country.I went to the north of Paraguay in the Chaco, a region once visited by  David Attenborough and documented in ' Zoo Quest in Paraguay'. There I, visited the oil exploration sites in Lapacho, and was a truly amazing experience. The main people in charge where foreigners, americans and bristish, which fortunately I had the priviledge to have the advice of a reservoir engineer there about a career in the oil and gas industry, which lead me to strongly be interested about, specially as they were exploring in my own land.
Since then I have been reading the digital editions of the oil and gas journal and watched web events by SPE the society of petroleum engineers.
Currently, I have just attended lectures by the university of Bristol about climate issues. I have also attended a three days chemistry conference at the University of Nottingham and one of the lecture program was about hydrocarbons and just general revision of oil extraction as part of the a level course.
My concern is whether an undergraduate degree in petroleum engineering is a 'wise' path to take, as it is very specific.Everyday I research more about the industry and get more passionate about it. A professor from Bristol university however, had created doubts on my mind and questioning if its a good career path, specially for a woman. His points were the career being specific, the fact that work is intense if working in the field like in remotes places, and the unsociable life style and difficulty of having a family. My alternatives are either going for an undergrad in petroleum engineering  or a more broad course like engineering mathematics and after do a masters in petroleum engineering if I really liked to work in the oil industry. What are your thoughts? I wanted to really have the advice from someone in the field rather than other engineering people.
Thank you in advance for your reply and advice,
Sincerely Arami Da Silva

Answer
Dear Arami,

Thanks for your interest in Petroleum and I appreciate that you raise some valid points and I will try to answer in a manner that help you and other readers going through similar confusion.

My answer is in two parts; firstly, briefly I will tell you the responsibilities of a petroleum engineer. Secondly, I will give you my opinion and advice.
First, you need to understand that petroleum is not only an adventurous profession but it also provide you a fantastic life style due to more than average salaries than other engineering fields. Petroleum engineers may serve in various capacities in petroleum industry; following roles can be adopted and where to perform work). Petroleum engineer either work for an oil company or oilfields services company. Typically, Service Company demands much more rigorous workflow from their employee and with more time in office than working in an oil company.

a)   Reservoir engineering (performs reservoir monitoring, well testing, reservoir and fluid studies, volumetric and production assessment and mostly work in office with occasional visits to wellsite and production sites)

b)   Drilling engineer (performs drilling planning includes procurement of drilling long lead items, well designs and deals with  drilling fluids, casings, blow out preventors, drilling site technical and human resources management, rig move and rigging up etc, and mostly works in office with time to time visits to the field)

c)   Production technologist: (deals with production matters, productions forecasting pipelines, transportation, etc, and equal time in office and in the field)
There are no clear boundaries between these three categories sand some of the duties and roles transgress each other.

According to the above categorization you may land a job working most of your professional career in a comfortable office environment; so you just cannot ignore this possibility. As you canít forsake driving to be scared of a road accident similarly you canít leave petroleum engineering because your life could be socially isolated which is not true. I am sure you would enjoy your life and wonít regret your decision to be an engineer.

Petroleum engineers earn better and landing an early job after graduation is far better than other engineering subjects. Please google search about petroleum engineering job prospects.
I think your professor should need to realize that discouraging their own students cannot be regarded as a service to their profession and I donít see any reason preaching such a dismal rumors is necessary.

So be focused and complete your PE education. In future, listen your teachers suggestions carefully and if any body tries to distract you from your set goals ignore them completely respectfully.

Regards

Geology

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Petroleum Exploration

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Petronas Carigali Sdn Bhd

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In Pakistani and Asian Petroleum Confertence special Publications

Education/Credentials
BSc Honours in Geology and Master of Science degree in Petroleum Geology

Awards and Honors
Active member AAPG, SPE and PAPG Treasurer PAPG and AAPG Visiting Geoscientist

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