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Oil Engineering

Oil engineering is the exploration, recovery, development, and processing of oil reserves. This discipline requires the use of mathematics, geology, computers, and other devices to economically and safely extract oil from the earth to process. It focuses on finding the most cost effective and safe way to extract oil without harming the earth or the environment. Oil engineering draws upon other disciplines in order to solve extraction issues, such as geophysics, economics, drilling, and artificial lift systems.

Crude oil, or petroleum, is composed of hydrocarbons. The task of the oil engineering field is to determine which sites contain the necessary factors that would result in the formation of an oil reservoir. The exact amount of oil contained in a reservoir is not known and must be estimated using mathematical equations. Since not all oil in oil reservoir is usable, an oil engineer must figure out what percentage of the oil would be usable and what is not usable. The oil engineer must use specialized software in addition to physical methods in order to make the determination. Offshore oil engineering poses a special problem because the oil is located underneath water.

It is impossible to extract every single drop of oil from the reservoir due to geological and technological limitations. The amount of oil that can be brought up to the surface is called the reserve. The ratio of recoverable oil to the total estimated amount of oil in a reservoir is called the recovery factor. The percentage of oil that is recoverable varies greatly from field to field. The recovery factor can increase in the future as new extraction technologies emerge. An oil field that had a low recovery factor years ago may now be increased due to the development of new extraction techniques. Future developments could prove to be profitable for other mines that had been previously determined to be no longer viable.

Oil engineering can be divided into several categories: reservoir engineering, drilling engineering, and production engineering. Each category deals with a specific aspect of oil engineering. The oil engineer is one of the highest paid positions in the engineering field, particularly because there is a tendency for mass layoffs when oil prices rise. This is a position for people who not only have strong math and analytical skills, but also have a sense of adventure.

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