Reservoir engineers are specialists in locating - and helping petroleum companies effectively use - underground reservoirs of fossil fuels. Using geological expertise, knowledge of fluid mechanics, and various forms of technology, the reservoir engineer determines the location of underground fuel reservoirs and their reserve capacities, as well as whether their long-term viability makes them suitable for investment. The reservoir engineer works with geologists to monitor the reserves as fuels are extracted and makes adjustments to extraction processes as geological changes occur with the depletion of the fuel. As easier-to-reach fuel reservoirs are depleted internationally, reservoir engineering increasingly explores new techniques to locate viable drilling spots, and developing and modifying machinery to tap into these spots.
Employers typically require at least a bachelor's degree in an accredited engineering program for entry-level positions, and state licensing is a requirement for all public-sector reservoir engineering jobs. Often, specialized coursework is desired for certain industries such as drilling mechanics, reservoir rock properties, and petroleum economics.
Most reservoir engineering jobs are in the petroleum industry, though there are opportunities available as consultants and in academic positions. A reservoir engineer employed in the petroleum industry divides their time among offices, laboratories, and in the field, locating and maintaining drilling sites (which may require extensive, worldwide travel). Engineers are typically full-time employees who work in shifts of varying length. Often, they work three days and then take three days off.
Reservoir Engineer Tasks
- Draft economic evaluations for all properties and prospects.
- Coordinate with field production department on well performance and production optimization.
- Monitor and maintain reserve and decline estimates in order to maximize production for existing properties.
- Conduct reservoir engineering studies, such as field studies for primary recovery, material balance, and decline curve analysis.