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What Does a Petroleum Technician Do?

Mary McMahon
Updated: May 17, 2024

A petroleum technician assists with the evaluation and exploitation of petroleum deposits. Supervised by engineers, technicians can help collect data on a site, manage drilling, and transport the oil for further processing. They are typically hired by oil and gas companies, although some government agencies also use petroleum technicians. It may be necessary to have a technical certificate or two year degree for this work, or extensive on the job experience with drilling crews. Available job openings can be found in trade publications, public listings, and internal company notices.

When oil and gas companies evaluate prospective deposits, they can send out a team that may include a petroleum technician. The team surveys, taking samples and using imaging technology to collect information about the size and nature of the deposit. Geologists and engineers may direct technicians throughout this process. These workers can also maintain equipment on the site, prepare costing estimates for different testing methods, and supervise assistants.

If a deposit appears to be productive, the petroleum technician can help dig and establish wells. This work can include installing and maintaining equipment as well as controlling costs at the site. Petroleum technicians work with drilling crews and support personnel to monitor safety and make sure a site adheres to environmental and human health regulations. Some technicians update and maintain the records pertaining to the drilling and may work with inspectors and regulators if questions about the site arise.

Transportation can also fall under the responsibilities of a petroleum technician. Products found on site need to be moved to pipelines or storage depots, which can require tankers, temporary lines, and other methods for moving petroleum. These systems need to be installed and maintained to keep the site running smoothly. Crews responsible for transport and storage may work with the petroleum technician to prevent spills and keep oil moving to processing centers for the employer.

This job can involve very harsh conditions. Oil deposits are not always located in pleasant environments and they are often remote. Technicians need to be able to work in freezing weather and high heat, and can have long hours in the field during emergencies or production crunch times. Employers may offer benefits including health care, paid vacations, and other options, especially to senior technicians with a long service record. It can help a technician to join a professional organization or union to keep up with developments in the field.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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