Most petroleum engineers work on site in locations where oil and gas are found. In Canada, the majority of petroleum engineers work in Alberta but there also are employment opportunities in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Nova Scotia.
Petroleum engineers may specialize in specific areas of petroleum engineering such as drilling, reservoir management, completions, production, operations, petrophysics, gas processing, secondary and tertiary recovery methods, or pipelines.
They may work for:
- major oil companies
- smaller, independent oil exploration, production and service companies
- engineering consulting firms
- government agencies.
Many petroleum engineers have their own consulting businesses, or work in banks and other financial institutions that lend money to companies for the financing of oil and gas properties.
Newly graduated petroleum engineers often start out doing field work under the supervision of an experienced engineer. This practical training is required for more responsible field engineering or reservoir engineering assignments.
In company operations divisions, petroleum engineers can work their way up from field to district, division and operations management positions.
In Alberta, 84% of people employed as petroleum engineers work in the following industries:
The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:
- fluctuations in supply and demand for oil and the price of oil
- trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
- location in Alberta
- employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
- occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
- size of the occupation.
In Alberta, the C045: Petroleum Engineers occupational group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 1.1% from 2016 to 2020. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 119 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.
Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.