Oil and Petroleum

oil well

Photo taken from Institute of Energy for South East Europe


At CSUCI: The degrees offered that would apply to oil and petroleum are Biology and Chemistry.

A solid foundation in organic and physical chemistry is vital, analytical chemistry skills are extremely important, and a background in chemical engineering is also useful. There are a range of chemist and chemical engineering positions for people with bachelors’ and master’s degrees, but a Ph.D. is generally required for research or more senior positions.


Oil and petroleum chemists spend most of their time working in the lab. They may go into the refinery occasionally or collect samples in the field. Chemists work in groups and often with chemical engineers, physicists, lawyers, and economists.

Typical Work Duties

  • Develop more efficient ways of turning petroleum into automotive or aviation fuel
  • Petroleum characterization, e.g., “fingerprint” oil leaked in a spill to trace its origin
  • Monitor quality and increase production yields at existing sites
  • Explore potential new sites for drilling activities
  • Develop new products from petroleum feedstocks or improve feedstock blends
  • Specialists in chemometrics use statistical and computer expertise to put install and use delicate lab instruments online under the hostile conditions of a refinery— including temperature extremes, vibrations from surrounding equipment, continuous operation, and locations that make monitoring difficult

Labor Statistics

Employment and Wage Statistics

Job Examples:

  1. Lubricant Additive Research Technician: Degree needed: B.S. in chemistry, biology, engineering or Automotive disciplines. Coordinates and executes research test programs to meet evolving lubrication needs for advanced engines.  This includes test program planning, arranging oil samples and test scheduling, data analysis using Excel to create tables and plots, and reporting for the development of formulation technologies and products.
  2. Process Engineer- Sulfur Recovery: Degree needed: Bachelors in Chemical Engineering. Develop KPIs and perform gap analysis. Perform plant performance optimization analysis, forecasts, environmental, economic reviews and evaluations on equipment / projects, operations and system operating strategies. Devise ways to improve systems while reducing costs, ensuring that work is completed safely and within schedule, setting and meeting deadlines. Conduct troubleshooting and root cause analysis for equipment / process low efficiency or failure. Carry out HAZOP and PHA studies for the plants including design changes.
  3. Process Chemist: Degree needed: Bachelors in Chemistry. Monitoring daily plant production processes of the MBS and the Acrylic Modifiers, and troubleshooting plant production problems through laboratory experiments. Monitor latex and powder quality. Develop test plans for improving quality, reducing costs, and/or modifying recipes.
  4. Chemical Technician: Degree needed: Bachelors in Chemistry or Biochemistry. Chemical technicians use special instruments and techniques to help chemists and chemical engineers research, develop, and produce chemical products and processes. Monitor chemical processes and test the quality of products to make sure that they meet standards and specifications, Conduct chemical and physical experiments, tests, and analyses for a variety of purposes, including research and development, and Prepare technical reports, graphs, and charts, and give presentations that summarize their results.
  5. Environmental Chemist: Degree needed: Bachelors in Chemistry. Prepare and analyze PCB bulk samples (Caulking, concrete, wipes, oil, paint chips, soil) using gas chromatography.
  6. Research and Development Chemist: Degree needed: Bachelors in Chemistry. The R&D Chemist will perform advanced laboratory examination, analysis and evaluation of various chemicals commonly used in oil and gas applications. Under minimal supervision and working with members of the Technical Services team, operations, sales and outside customers, the R&D Chemist performs analysis, testing and experimentation to furnish comprehensive data and results to a variety of internal and external customers. This position oversees product development and ensures QA/QC of all products.

Helpful Links

American Petroleum Institute

ACS-Oil and Petroleum

EnvironmentalScience.org - Petroleum Engineer

Webpage created by Karina Ferguson

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