Petroleum Engineering focuses on the safe and efficient extraction of fluid energy resources from the subsurface: oil and gas, but increasingly also hot water for geothermal energy. In the coming decades, the world’s energy supply will still be strongly dependent on hydrocarbons (especially natural gas) but the subsurface will also play an increasing role in sustainable energy production: apart from a vast supply of heat, it also provides space for storage, e.g. for hydrogen or other fluid energy carriers produced from wind or solar energy, and for the greenhouse gas CO2. This means that there is strong demand for engineers who understand the subsurface to influence and optimize the flow of fluids, often under major geological uncertainty. Petroleum engineers assess the consequences of human activities in the subsurface, such as subsidence and induced seismicity by advancing the state-of-the-art characterization, modeling, and engineering techniques for coupled fluid flow and geo-mechanical deformations.
Petroleum engineers develop innovative techniques for the flow of fluids at a wide ranges of scales: from the detailed physical and chemical mechanisms of multi-phase fluid flow in porous rock to the large-scale engineering challenges of developing oil, gas or geothermal energy projects. Their activities range from performing laboratory experiments, developing mathematical models, handling large amounts of data, and developing large-scale computer models, to assessing the economic and financial aspects of energy development projects. Petroleum engineers nearly always work in in multi-disciplinary and multi-cultural teams in an international setting. As experts in taking decisions under uncertainty they are key players in the development of smart solutions for a wide range of our society’s current and future energy challenges.
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