Job Descriptions in the Oil and Gas Industry

This article gives a description of the common position for science and engineering professionals in the oil and gas exploration and servicing firms, especially in Nigeria.

Civil Engineer

Civil engineering is the discipline dealing with the design, construction, and maintenance, typically of public works such as roads, bridges, canals and buildings. Civil engineers can be involved in nearly every stage of a construction project – from site selection, writing specifications for materials, reviewing bids, and supervising construction. They aim to design and build structures that meet requirements for safety, reliability, cost, and energy efficiency.


Corrosion Engineer

Corrosion engineering is a discipline of engineering intended to prevent deterioration and damage to assets due to the chemical process known as corrosion. A corrosion engineer’s main focus is to study, monitor, control and prevent the corrosion process, both safely and economically. In the oil and gas industry, corrosion engineers are especially valuable because almost all oil and gas products must pass through steel at some point, whether it be during drilling, transporting through a pipeline, or in a refinery setting. Corrosion engineers use a combination of skills but typically have a chemical, material science, or metallurgical background.


Drilling Engineer

A drilling engineer’s main responsibility is to manage the drilling of a well to produce oil or gas as safely and efficiently as possible. Drilling Engineers are involved from the initial well planning and design, through well testing, completion, and finally abandonment. Designing and maintaining the equipment used for oil and gas extraction is another one of their responsibilities, as well as performing cost estimates and keeping track of drilling rates. Drilling engineers work in both the office and the field, which could be either onshore or offshore. Generally drilling engineers complete an engineering degree in petroleum, mechanical or chemical engineering.

Engineering Manager

Engineering managers bring together their administrative, planning and organizational abilities along with their knowledge of engineering principles to manage an engineering function. They are required to apply both business practice and engineering principles to oversee technical projects from conception to completion. The combination of technological and business knowledge required in engineering management are important for effective and efficient operations and overall project success.

Electrical Engineer

Electrical engineering deals with the study, design, development and testing of electronics and electrical equipment. Engineers in this field can specialize in several sub-disciplines such as power, controls, electronics, instrumentation, communications and more. It is a broad field that spans the industry and requires in-depth knowledge of electronic theory, mathematics, CAD systems, reading schematics and circuit layout.

Environmental Engineer

Environmental Engineers are concerned with protecting the environment by developing solutions to environmental problems created by company operations or activities. They assess the impact of projects in the environment and ensure systems and facilities are compliant with environmental regulations.


Facilities Engineer Jobs

Facilities engineers oversee the design and construction of various production and utility systems in a given facility, ranging from offshore platforms to onshore plants. They assist with designing the layout and systems including everything from power sources, climate control, water and lighting to more specialized systems such as those processing chemicals or environmental controls. Many facilities engineers are also involved with the ongoing operations of this equipment, suggesting maintenance schedules and consulting on future renovations and construction.

Geoscientist

Geoscientist is a general term used to describe the individuals responsible for locating, evaluating and developing oil and gas reservoirs. Geoscience professionals use technology and applied science to maximize the recovery of oil and gas. They are present at all phases of the reservoir life cycle, from exploration, through drilling, production and eventually abandonment. They will measure and map seismic, magnetic, and other earth forces that affect the earth, as well as study and interpret data that is useful in locating oil and gas reservoirs. Geochemists, geologists, geophysicists, as well as geoscience technicians all fall into this category.

HSE Manager

HSE Engineers or Managers are responsible for all matters related to HSE (Health, Safety & Environment) and direct the HSE division by providing guidance to ensure all regulatory standards and company policies are followed. They advise senior management to guarantee effective HSE support to the business.

Instrument & Controls Engineer

Instrument & Controls engineers design, install, manage, and maintain equipment which is used to monitor and control engineering systems, machinery and processes. Instrumentation is vital in measuring and controlling parameters such as pressure, flow, temperature, current, and voltage by gathering information from the field and then changing its parameters via a control loop. Instrument & Controls engineers therefore aim to improve productivity, stability, safety, continuity and optimization through measurement, automation and control processes.


Metallurgist / Materials Engineers

Metallurgy is a branch of engineering that studies the chemical and physical elements of metals, their compounds, and their mixtures, known as alloys. Materials engineers manage the research, analysis, specification, design and development of materials through understanding their behaviors and properties. This is vital to improving the performance, durability, cost-effectiveness and technological advancement of finished products.

Marine Engineer

Marine engineering involves the design, development, operation and maintenance of the propulsion, powering and mechanization aspects of a ship or other marine vessels. They specialize in the anchoring, steering, cargo handling, hvac, communications and electrical power generation equipment onboard. Marine engineers in the oil and gas industry may also focus on fixed marine structures, such as oil rigs, platforms, or offshore windfarms.

Mechanical Engineering

Mechanical engineering is a discipline that deals with the design, analysis, manufacturing, installation, operation and maintenance of engines, machinery and tools. It involves the application of principles such as materials science, physics, thermodynamics and more. In an industry such as oil and gas, mechanical engineering can work with a wide variety of machines, tools and mechanical systems.

Naval Architecture Jobs

Naval architecture focuses on overall design, construction, maintenance and operation of a marine vessel and its propulsion through the water. Naval architects must be able to integrate electrical, mechanical, piping, and structural systems to develop ships and other floating structures. This engineering field is multi-disciplinary by nature, and requires knowledge of hydrostatics, hydrodynamics, structural analysis, maneuvering, resistance and propulsion.

Project Engineer

Project engineers combine project management skills with engineering knowledge to lead the technical team in the completion of a project. Scheduling, project controls, problem solving, vendor management, coordinating and managing the project team are just a few of the skills that may be required in this role. They may also work closely with management to ensure projects are technically sound from an engineering perspective, completed safely, and delivered on time and within budget.

Petroleum Engineering

Petroleum engineers handle many responsibilities, but on a basic level they are responsible for locating, recovering and maintaining the world’s oil and gas supplies. Petroleum engineers design and develop methods for extracting oil and gas from below the earth’s surface. Their duties can also include managing an oil or gas producing property once it is operational and maximizing the performance and profitability of a well. Petroleum engineers are involved in all stages of well production, from helping to locate a potential well site, through drilling, production, processing and transportation. Some job titles a petroleum engineer may carry include reservoir engineer, drilling engineer or production engineer.

Pipeline Engineer

Pipeline engineering consists of the planning, design, construction, integrity, maintenance and operations of pipelines and associated facilities, both onshore and offshore. Pumping stations, compressor stations, storage terminals, manifolds, and control systems are just a few of the facilities where the technical expertise of a pipeline engineer are required. Pipelines consist of pumps, valves and control devices to carry liquids and gases over long distances, therefore requiring multi-disciplinary engineering knowledge to handle any issues or improvements as needed.

Process Engineer

Process engineers are found in almost all industrial plants, and they are responsible for the design, operation, control and optimization of chemical processes. Process engineers in the oil and gas industry work in all sectors of the oil and gas industry from upstream, to midstream and downstream including chemical plants and refineries. Due to the extensive knowledge of chemical processes that these positions require, process engineers usually hold chemical engineering degrees.

Piping Engineer

Piping engineers apply the principles of mathematics, physics and chemistry to assure the design of pipe systems used to convey liquid or gas from one location to another. Specialists in this field may focus on materials, design or stress analysis, and they ensure that piping systems are designed, fabricated, installed, inspected, operated and maintained. This is extremely important to the safety of personnel, public safety, and facility reliability.

Production Engineer

Production engineers monitor and evaluate the production and efficiency of an oil or gas well. They develop methods to improve extraction, oversee drilling activities and will determine the need for new or improved tools. One of their main responsibilities is to evaluate the flow between the reservoir and the wellbore. Production engineers monitor the entire production process and will design completion systems and select equipment that will increase production rates. Production engineers are usually petroleum engineers, however sometimes an engineer from a different discipline will be trained on production engineering tasks.


Project Manager

Project Management is the process of planning, monitoring, motivating and organizing procedures and people in relation to achieving a specific goal, target or project. The Project Manager efficiently pulls together all business units, to work towards one unified goal, composed of many smaller tasks. Each project is unique in that it is designed to produce a new product, service or enhancement, and can involve different teams.

Reservoir Engineer

A reservoir engineer is concerned with underground oil and gas reserves, specifically finding the most efficient way to extract their resources. The reservoir engineer can work through all phases of a well’s lifespan, from helping petroleum geologists find well sites, through field development, planning, forecasting, testing and drilling. Their duties are varied and can include simulation and surveillance of the well, production forecasting, and development planning. Reservoir engineers are especially concerned with determining the economic viability of a well, finding out how much the well can produce, and making sure that the well is cost effective. They are also responsible for reporting reserve numbers to regulatory agencies. Reservoir engineers are usually petroleum engineers, however occasionally chemical or mechanical engineers can be trained for this position.

Safety Engineer

Safety Engineering is an engineering discipline that applies engineering principles in order to design and implement systems with acceptable levels of safety. Safety Engineers evaluate and review specifications of machinery to ensure they meet safety regulations and are safe to operate. They design and implement safety programs to prevent and decrease the possibility of human error in engineered environments.

Structural Engineer


Structural engineering is a field focusing on the analysis, design or evaluation of structures that are required to support or resist a load. This can include buildings, towers, bridges, dams, or structures such as oil rigs. Structural engineering ensures that throughout the stresses and pressures of the environment, structures will remain safe, stable and secure.

Career Options for Engineering Graduates in the Nigerian Oil & Gas Industry

As an engineering graduate in Nigeria, you have many options to choose from when you want to work in the Oil and Gas Industry. Although, the dream of most engineering undergraduates in Nigeria is to work in the International Oil Companies (IOCs) like Chevron, ExxonMobil, Total, Shell, etc., but the sad truth is that an insignificant percentage of graduating students each year will usually be employed. And moreover, in recent times, returning graduates from foreign universities seem to have an advantage over those who schooled in Nigeria. 

However, with the implementation of the Nigerian Content Development (NCD) Act 2010, many opportunities have been created for engineering graduates in the oil and gas service firms that service the IOCs and other indigenous oil and gas producing companies.

In this article, the various positions available in Nigeria to graduates interested in working for these oil and gas Engineering Procurement and Construction (EPC) service companies will be discussed based on your course of study. The actual work that these professionals do on a day to day basis will be discussed in another post. Please note that these positions are by no means exhaustive, but are the most common types of jobs available in Nigeria at the moment.

 1.    Marine Engineering - Marine Engineer, Naval Architect.

 2.    Mechanical Engineering - Piping Engineer, Pipeline Engineer, Mechanical Engineer

 3.    Chemical/Petroleum Engineering - Process Engineer, Safety Engineer

 4.    Electrical/Electronics Engineering - Electrical Engineer, Instrumentation & Control Engineer, Telecommunications Engineer

 5.    Computer Engineering: Instrumentation & Control Engineer, Telecommunications Engineer

 6.    Civil Engineering: Civil Engineer, Structural Engineer, Pipeline Engineer

 7.    Materials & Metallurgical Engineering: Corrosion Engineer, Pipeline Engineer, Materials Engineer (Construction Yard)


In the oil and gas exploration and production (E&P) companies, the following positions are also available, in addition to those listed above.

8. Geology/Engineering Geology – Geoscientist including Geologist, Geophysicist and Geochemist.

9.  Chemical Engineering – Production Engineer, Reservoir Engineer, Environmental Engineer, Facilities Engineer, Drilling Engineer

10. Mechanical Engineering: Production Engineer, Facilities Engineer, Drilling Engineer

In addition to the above, there are also some other positions open to any of the any of the engineering disciplines after some years of experience, mainly Project Engineer, Engineering Manager and Project Manager.

Also, some positions are open to both engineering and non-engineering graduates, including HSE Engineer/Manager, Document Controllerand Project Planner/Scheduler and Cost Control Specialist.


A description of these positions can be viewed in the other post - Job Descriptions in the Oil and Gas Industry.

Overview of Nigerian Petroleum Industry

History of the Nigerian Petroleum Industry

The advent of the oil industry in Nigeria can be traced back to 1908, when a German entity, the Nigerian Bitumen Corporation, commenced exploration activities in the Araromi area, West of Nigeria. These pioneering efforts ended abruptly with the outbreak of the First World War in 1914.

Oil prospecting efforts resumed in 1937, when Shell D'Arcy (the forerunner of Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria) was awarded the sole concessionary rights covering the whole territory of Nigeria. Their activities were also interrupted by the Second World War, but resumed 1947. Concerted efforts after several years, led to the first commercial discovery in 1956 at Oloibiri, in the present day Bayelsa State in the Niger Delta. Nigeria joined the ranks of oil producers in 1958 when its first oil field came on stream producing 5,100 bpd.

After 1960, exploration rights in onshore and offshore areas adjoining the Niger Delta were extended to other foreign companies. Subsequently, the quantity increased progressively as more players came onto the oil scene, the production rose to 2.0 million barrels per day in 1972 and a peaking at 2.4 million barrels per day in 1979. Nigeria thereafter, attained the status of a major oil producer, ranking 7th in the world in 1972.

Current Status of the Oil and Gas Industry in Nigeria

Nigeria is the largest oil producer in Africa, holds the largest natural gas reserves on the continent, and is among the world's top five exporters of liquefied natural gas (LNG).Nigeria joined the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in 1971 and established the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) in 1977, a state owned and controlled company which is a major player in both the upstream and downstream sectors.

In 2011 there were said to be 37.2 billion barrels of proven oil reserves in Nigeria, producing about 2.4 million barrels per day (bbl/d), ranking the country as the largest oil producer in Africa and the 11th largest in the world.

Nigeria has an estimated 159 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of proven natural gas reserves, giving the country one of the top ten natural gas endowments in the world. Due to a lack of utilization infrastructure, Nigeria still flares about substantial part of the natural gas it produces and re-injects 12% to enhance oil recovery. The World Bank estimates that Nigeria accounts for 12.5% of the world's total gas flaring.

Nigeria's oil and natural gas resources are the mainstay of the country's economy. The country's oil and natural gas industry typically accounts for 75% of government revenue and 90% of total export earnings. Nigeria's economy is vulnerable to a drop in crude oil prices as it is very dependent on oil revenue.

Offshore Platform Selection Criteria

The assessment that would be done before choosing a development system for oil and gas
production includes:

Water depth

The realities of the laws of physics and the limited strength and flexibility of materials make
water depths the first cut in choosing a development system. Below is the water depth for 
each options;-

            Fixed platforms…………………<1500ft
            Gravity platforms………………1000ft
            CTs ………………………………3000ft
            TLPs……………………………..5000ft
            Spars…………………………… 7500ft
            FPSs…………………………….unlimited
            Subsea systems……………….unlimited

Oil Transportation

With the cost of laying new pipelines exorbitant  calls for floating production systems with oil
storage onboard or floating nearby. So that’s why in remote West Africa, the complete lack 
of oil pipeline infrastructure calls for FPSOs, or at minimum, FSOs.

Gas Disposition

Deepwater gas can provide good news or bad in the selection of development systems. If 
the prospect has associated gas dissolved in the oil, something besides flaring has to be
done with the gas as it is produced. Gas is good news when a gas pipeline infrastructure
presents itself in some proximity. The good news is then compounded when the reservoir is
predominantly gas , with just some associated liquids.

Reservoir Proximity


Development opportunity can include more than one reservoir. The proximity of the various 
reservoir can dictate the scheme selected. If they are relatively close to each other (2 miles)
, that arrangement favours a fixed platform, a TLP, a spar, or a compliant tower, but doesn’t 
exclude development with subsea wet trees. If the reservoirs range over many miles, 
subsea wells connected via flowlines to a fixed or floating station makes more sense. 

Field Development Planning

Field Development Planning is the selection of all the activities and processes required to gain production from an oil or gas field.

The objective is to provide an optimum development plan that maximizes the value of 
the hydrocarbons.

Oil and Gas Exploration & Production Companies in Nigeria

International Oil Companies (IOCs)


CHEVRON :
  • Ø  CHEVRON NIGERIA LTD. - CNL,
  • Ø  STAR DEEP WATER PETROLEUM LTD,


ENI-AGIP :
  • Ø  NIGERIAN AGIP OIL COMPANY LTD - NAOC,
  • Ø  NIGERIAN AGIP EXPLORATION - NAE.


EXXONMOBIL :
  • Ø  MOBIL PRODUCING NIGERIA ULTD. - MPNU,
  • Ø  ESSO EXPLORATION and PRODUCTION NIGERIA LTD. - EEPN,


SHELL :
  • Ø  SHELL PETROLEUM DEVELOPMENT COMPANY OF NIGERIA LTD. - SPDC
  • Ø  SHELL NIGERIA EXPLORATION and PRODUCTION COMPANY LTD. - SNEPCO


TOTAL :
  • Ø  ELF PETROLEUM NIGERIA LTD. - EPNL,
  • Ø  TOTAL UPSTREAM NIGERIA LTD.

Independents and Local Operators


  • Ø  ADDAX PETROLEUM DEVELOPMENT NIGERIA LTD.
  • Ø AITEO
  • Ø  ALLIED ENERGY RESOURCES NIGERIA LTD - CAMAC
  • Ø  AMNI INTERNATIONAL PETROLEUM DEVELOPMENT COMPANY LTD - AMNI
  • Ø  CAVENDISH PETROLEUM NIGERIA LTD
  • Ø  CHINA NATIONAL OFFSHORE OIL CORPORATION - CNOOC
  • Ø  CHINA NATIONAL PETROLEUM CORPORATION - CNPC
  • Ø  CONOIL PRODUCING LTD
  • Ø  DUBRI OIL COMPANY LTD
  • Ø ELCREST
  • Ø  EMERALD ENERGY RESOURCES LTD
  • Ø EROTON
  • Ø  EXPRESS PETROLEUM AND GAS COMPANY LIMITED
  • Ø FIRST HYDROCARBON NIGERIA
  • Ø  KNOC - KOREA NATIONAL OIL COMPANY
  • Ø  MONI PULO LTD - MPL
  • Ø NECONDE
  • Ø NDWESTERN
  • Ø  NIGERIAN NATIONAL PETROLEUM CORPORATION - NNPC
  • Ø  NIGERIAN PETROLEUM DEVELOPMENT COMPANY LTD – NPDC
  • Ø NEWCROSS
  • Ø  OANDO ENERGY RESOURCES
  • Ø  PETROLEO BRASILEIRO NIGERIA LTD. - PETROBRAS
  • Ø SEPLAT
  • Ø SHORELINE NATURAL RESOURCES
  • Ø  STATOIL NIGERIA LTD
  • Ø  SUMMIT OIL INTERNATIONAL LTD
  • Ø  SUNLINK PETROLEUM LTD
  • Ø  YINKA FOLAWIYO PETROLEUM COMPANY LTD
  • Ø   PAN OCEAN OIL CORPORATION NIGERIA LTD – PANOCO

Marginal Field Operators 

  • Ø  BICTA ENERGY AND MANAGEMENT SYSTEM LTD.
  • Ø  BRITANIA-U NIGERIA LTD.
  • Ø  CHORUS ENERGY LTD.
  • Ø  ENERGIA COMPANY LTD.
  • Ø  EXCEL EXPLORATION AND PRODUCTION SERVICES
  • Ø  FRONTIER OIL LTD.
  • Ø  GUARANTEE PETROLEUM CORPORATION
  • Ø  MART RESOURCES
  • Ø  MIDWESTERN OIL AND GAS CORPORATION
  • Ø  MORRIS PETROLEUM LTD.
  • Ø  NETWORK E & P
  • Ø  NIGER DELTA PETROLEUM RESOURCES LTD
  • Ø  ORIENTAL ENERGY RESOURCES LTD
  • Ø  OWENA OIL AND GAS LTD.
  • Ø  PILLAR OIL LTD.
  • Ø  PLATFORM PETROLEUM CORPORATION LTD.
  • Ø  PRIME ENERGY RESOURCES LTD.
  • Ø  SAHARA ENERGY FIELD LTD.
  • Ø  SUFFOLK PETROLEUM SERVICES LTD.
  • Ø  SUNTRUST
  • Ø  WALTER SMITH PETROMAN OIL LTD.



Offshore Field Development

The different development options for offshore fields can be broadly classified into three categories:
  • Fixed Platforms,
  • Floating systems      
  • Subsea Systems 


1.0  Fixed Platforms

These are the structures that physically sit on the bottom of the sea. Being held by the sheer weight of  the structure or by piles driven into the seabed to hold them in place. Fixed platforms are economically  feasible for installation in water depths up to about 1,700 feet (520 m). They include:

Jacket-based  platforms: These consist of a jacket and a deck. The jacket is tall, vertical

 section built from tubular steel members and is locked to the seabed by driven piles. The

 deck (or topside) is where crew quarters, production facilities and drill rigs are located.

Unmanned installations: These are small platforms, consisting of little more than a  well bay,
 helipad and emergency shelter. They are designed for operate remotely under normal 
operations, only to be visited occasionally for routine maintenance or  well work. They 
include wellhead platforms.

Compliant towers: These are made of tubular steel members and are fixed to the bottom 
with piling, and supports a deck. Compliant towers are designed to sustain significant lateral
deflections and forces, and are  typically used in water depths ranging from 1,500 and 3,000
feet (450 and 900 m).

Gravity platforms: These are built from reinforced concrete. They rely on gravity to hold 
them in place. Gravity platforms are used in up to 1000ft of water, but the seabed has to be 
especially firm to ensure no creep over time.

2.0  Floating Production Systems

These include TLPs, FPS’s and spars. All three have to be moored in place with tendons or wire rope and chains in order to stay connected to the wells below.

Tension leg platforms (TLPs);- these have floating hulls made of buoyant columns and 
pontoons. Steel pipe tendons hold the hull below their natural level of flotation, keeping the 
tendons in tension and the hull in place eliminating most vertical movement of the structure. 
TLPS are used in water depths up to about 6,000 feet (2,000 m).

Spar platforms;- these get their flotation from large diameter cylinders, weighted at the 
bottom to keep them upright. Eight to 16 wire or synthetic rope and chain combinations 
moor the hulls to the seabed. Spars have little vertical heaves because of their huge 
masses.

Floating production systems (FPS’s);- these consists of ship shape, TLP-like, or a 
semisubmersible hulls with production facilities on board.

Floating production, storage and offloading systems (FPSOs): These have large ship shape, made either converted tankers or new construction. They have no drilling capability and are moored to place with rope and chain. They process production from subsea wells and store large crude oil volumes, accumulated for later transport by shuttle tankers.

  

3.0  Subsea Systems


These can have single or multiple wellheads on the sea floor connected directly to a host platform or to a subsea manifold. The systems include connections by flowlines  and risers  to fixed or floating systems  that could be miles away. It can be set in any depth water.  
  

Offshore Drilling

Offshore exploration are usually carried out with the aid of fixed offshore Jackup drill rigs, Semi-Submersible drill rigs or Deep Water Drill ships.


Jack-up Drill Rigs, as the name suggests, are platforms that can be jacked up above the sea using legs which can be lowered like jacks. These platforms, used in relatively low depths, are designed to move from place to place, and then anchor themselves by deploying the jack-like legs.

Semi-submersible Drill Rigs:  having legs of sufficient buoyancy to cause the structure to float, but of weight sufficient to keep the structure upright. Semi-submersible rigs can be moved from place to place; and can be ballasted up or down by altering the amount of flooding in buoyancy tanks; they are generally anchored by cable anchors during drilling operations, though they can also be kept in place by the use of dynamic positioning. Semi-submersible can be used in depths from 600 to 6,000 feet (180 to 1,800 m). 


Drillships, a maritime vessel that has been fitted with drilling apparatus. It is most often  used for exploratory drilling of new oil or gas wells in deep water but can also be used for scientific drilling. It is often built on a modified tanker hull and outfitted with a dynamic positioning system to maintain its position over the well. 

Overview of the Oil and Gas Industry

Oil and gas are considered among the world's most important resources. The oil and gas industry plays a critical role in driving the global economy.

Oil is not only an essential raw material to over 2,000 end products but is also used for transportation, heating, electricity and lubrication. It supplies about 50% of the world’s total energy requirements.

View an updated presentation about this topic from our sister website here: