Petroleum Engineering: An Introduction | Sub-Disciplines | ScienceMonk

Petroleum engineering deals with not only the crude oil but also it is a field concerned with the other hydrocarbons such as natural gas.

Crude oil is a daily necessity and life without it is practically impossible. Well, we don’t use the crude oil in its raw form but starting from oil, gasoline, your car’s tyres, diesel, jet fuel to fibers, sunscreens, plastics, cosmetics- crude oil has its application nearly everywhere!

Petroleum Engineering
Extraction of this crude oil is a long and tedious process, and the branch of engineering which deals with its extraction, refining, manufacturing, and distribution is known as Petroleum Engineering.

The oil and gas industry is divided into three main segments, namely:

  • Upstream: It is commonly known as the exploration & production section. This section covers all the activities related to the searching of the crude oil, drilling of the well and recovering the oil and bringing it to the surface.
  • Midstream: It connects the upstream to the downstream. It is a sector concerned with the transportation (laying of pipelines, trucks, etc.) and the marketing of the wholesale products.
  • Downstream: This sector is concerned with the refining of the crude oil or the natural gas obtained from the upstream sector. Distribution plants, oil refineries fall into this category.


Petroleum Engineering


Sub-Disciplines of Petroleum Engineering:

Petroleum engineering is itself a very diverse field, so there are different sub-division of engineers based on the particular work they do on the field.

  • Drilling Engineers: They are concerned with the drilling activities, i.e., the process carried out to drill into the borehole where the oil reservoir is present.
  • Reservoir Engineers: They are the engineers who are specialized in enhanced oil recovery techniques and help in optimizing the production of hydrocarbons through proper production rates.
  • Completion Engineers: They ensure that the well is drilled stably and also ensure for maximum production of oil and gas.
  • Production Engineers: They are the engineers who design and select subsurface equipment to produce oil and gas fluids.

Oil Extraction In A Nutshell:

You might be thinking that in this vast Earth how is oil located! Well, the geologists are the people who are responsible for this primary task. They find the right conditions for an oil trap. These may include – the surface rock, the reservoir rock, soil types and the core sample obtained by shallow drilling.

The modern and improvised methods are most commonly the use of sensitive gravity meters and seismology.
After potential research, when the site to be drilled is selected, the land must be prepared for drilling. It is cleared and, and a reserve pit is dug to dispose of rock cuttings and the drilling mud.

Once the land has been prepared, the process of setting up the rig starts. And once, the whole setup has been completed, the actual process of drilling begins. Long holes up to 15,000 ft are drilled into the earth.

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The hole is then cemented and cased and again drilled, and this process continues till the final depth is reached. After the well is completed, the drilling crew starts the flow of oil into the well. Various methods are employed such as pumping acid into the well to enable the oil-bearing limestone channels to dissolve and to allow the flow of oil into the well. Once the oil starts flowing, the rig is removed, and the production equipment is installed to extract the oil from the well.


Petroleum Engineering

Types Of Drilling:

  • Onshore Drilling: It is basically drilling on the Earth surface. This method is comparatively more difficult than the extraction from the sea bed.
  • Offshore Drilling: Some oil deposits can be found buried deep under the ocean floor. Drill ships and semisubmersibles are used in such drilling.
  • Directional Drilling: The practice of drilling non-vertical wells. It is mainly done where a vertical well cannot be drilled for example an oilfield situated under a town.

Major products of crude oil: Petroleum Engineering

An oil refinery is an industrial process plant where crude oil is processed and refined into more useful products such as gasoline, diesel, asphalt base, jet fuel, etc. Crude oil is separated into fractions by fractional distillation.

The petroleum products are grouped into three categories :

  • Light distillate: LPG, Gasoline, Naphtha.
  • Middle distillate: Kerosene, Jet fuel, Diesel.
  • Heavy distillate: Heavy fuel oil, Lubricating oil, Wax, Asphalt

Over 6000 products are made from petroleum by-products such as fertilizer, perfume, petroleum jelly, soap, etc.

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