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Drilling engineer: Job description

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A drilling engineer develops, plans, costs and supervises the operations necessary for drilling oil and gas wells. They are involved from the initial well design to testing, completion and abandonment.

Engineers can be employed on land, on offshore platforms or on mobile drilling units either by the operating oil company, a specialist drilling contractor or a service company.

The role can involve administering drilling and service contracts, engineering design, the planning of wells and supervising the drilling crew on site.

Drilling engineers work with other professionals, such as geologists and geoscientists, to monitor drilling progress, oversee safety management and ensure the protection of the environment.

Typical work activities

The role of a drilling engineer can vary depending on the employer but tasks often include:

  • preparing well data sheets;
  • designing and selecting well-head equipment;
  • drawing up drilling programmes, taking account of desired production flow rates;
  • obtaining relevant data, carrying out engineering analysis on site and recommending necessary actions and writing up reports;
  • monitoring the daily progress of well operations;
  • keeping track of current daily costs, comparing actual costs with expenditure proposals and recommending cost-effective changes;
  • liaising with specialist contractors and suppliers, such as cement companies or suppliers of drilling fluids;
  • monitoring safety and ensuring the good maintenance of the well;
  • adhering to environmental protection standards, in some cases through direct discussion with local governments to ensure compliance with legislative requirements;
  • establishing and administering drilling and service contracts;
  • coordinating and supervising the work of the drilling team;
  • undertaking engineering design and the planning of wells (including development work);
  • designing directional well paths (horizontally or multi-laterally, as appropriate);
  • managing operations on behalf of small clients;
  • contributing to conceptual field development design;
  • working with multidisciplinary professionals to evaluate the commercial viability of the well and monitor progress during drilling;
  • returning the site to its natural environmental setting if drilling is not to be pursued.

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Written by AGCAS editors
July 2015

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