Information Seeking Behaviour Of Petroleum Engineers In Niger Delta Region Of Nigeria: A Survey.

Author:Ebiye, Edonkumoh V.


Petroleum engineers are professionals who specialize in a field of engineering that is concerned with the activities related to the production of hydrocarbons, which can be either crude oil or natural gas. Their expertise is often called to bear on Exploration and Production commonly found within the upstream sector of the oil and gas industry. Petroleum Engineers are involved in virtually every stage of the exploration and production of oil and gas. Their major aim according to Jeff (2013) is to maximise hydrocarbon recovery at minimum cost while maintaining a strong emphasis on reducing environmental impact.

The major task of petroleum engineers is to manipulate scientific and engineering technology driven related information in handling production, management, distribution and marketing of petroleum and natural gas products. This is in line with the central purpose of engineering which is to design technological devices or structures based on new concepts or modifications of existing ones. Petroleum Engineers are regarded as subject specialists that execute specialized tasks. According to Hertzum & Pejtersen (2000) engineers can be described as practising an applied science and can be characterised as subject specialists performing rather complex tasks.

Petroleum engineers are categorized into various professionals based on diverse areas they major in. Thus it will be imperative to have a brief look of at the various professionals and their major responsibilities. This exposition will create the chance to know the kind of information they work with and possibly how they go about seeking these information to meet their needs professionally.

Categories of Petroleum Engineers and their Duties and Responsibilities

Generally there are five main basic petroleum engineering professionals who are: Reservoir Engineers, Drilling Engineers, Production Engineers, Natural Gas Engineers and Petroleum Economists. Each of these various professionals specializes in different areas of exploration and production of oil and natural gas and they harness their technical know-how together to achieve the aims and objectives of the oil and gas industry.

Reservoir Engineers takes charge of assessing or ascertaining oil and natural gas deposits. Their primary duty is to determine the size of a reservoir and work out modalities on how to maximise the economic gains from extracting them. The ultimate responsibility of the reservoir engineer according to UNSW (2015) is to maximise the output of the reservoir without causing overproduction. They work together with geologists and geophysicists to find the reserves of oil and gas relying on the basic laws of physics and chemistry that affect the behaviour of liquid and vapour phases of oil, natural gas, and water in rock (Wikipedia, 2015). Surveillance Engineers, Simulation Modelling Engineers and Geothermal Engineers are all regarded as Reservoir Engineers.

Drilling Engineers is in charge of drilling well logs to produce oil or gas. They take responsibility of developing, planning, costing and supervising all operations required for drilling oil and natural gas wells. They are involved from the initial design of the well to testing, completion and, finally, abandonment. In the planning phases, the Drilling engineer would be involved in estimating the value of the reserves, estimating the costs to access them, acquiring necessary property by lease, conducting a geological survey, designing a well bore plan, and providing a layout of the type of equipment required to reach the depth of the well (Wikipedia, 2015). Completion Engineers, Workover Engineers, Well Abandonment Engineers, Deepwater Drilling Engineer are all categories of Drilling Engineers.

Production Engineers focus more on the everyday production of oil and gas as compared to most of the others who focus on finding more oil and gas in new and existing reservoirs (Hjelle and Montenereo, 2011). The Production Engineers are responsible for the process of bringing hydrocarbon to the surface and preparing them for processing. Production Engineers are involved in designing and selecting all required equipment that will get the well log to produce oil and gas after it is drilled. They coordinate the installation, maintenance and operation of the mining and oilfield equipment, and manage the boundary between the well and the reservoir using perforations, sand control, artificial lift, and downhole control.

Natural Gas Engineers specializes in the exploration and production of natural gas. They are solely responsible for the extraction, processing, and transportation of natural gas or petroleum products. Natural Gas Engineers applies their knowledge of petroleum engineering to the development of natural gas resources. An oil and gas engineer is involved in the process of extracting oil and natural gas from reservoirs. In all these stages, an oil and gas engineer uses petrophysics knowledge to ensure that all drilling operations are conducted accurately and efficiently, while complying with laws and environmental standards.

Petroleum Economists involves the application of the techniques of economic analysis at every stage in the development of oil and gas exploration and production projects. They achieve this by coordinating the basic factors of oil and gas economics that affects production which includes: the level of knowledge about the oil or gas field, the location, type and number of wells, market conditions, and the effect of tax/royalty systems. By analysing factors like these, Petroleum Economists are able to assist in making investment decisions, such as deciding whether or not to drill an exploration well or whether or not to develop an entire gas production project (UNSW, 2015).

The Relevance of Information to Petroleum Engineers

Every single action and decision guiding the operations of petroleum engineers are embedded in policy documents which contain series of professional information. Oil and gas companies are extremely information intensive operations and they rely on truly vast amounts of information, e.g. seismic data, geological models, reservoir models, simulations, drilling logs, production measurements, intervention reports and process parameters, for their everyday operations (Hjelle and Monteiro, 2011). The importance of information to Petroleum Engineers is highly irrefutable. The continuous survival of the exploration and production industry depends largely on the interplay of the forces of demand and supply of adequate and relevant oil and gas information. This is because information is the hub in which the wheel of every oil and gas exploration and production activities rotates. Thus, the success of the petroleum industry at all levels depend largely on petroleum engineers' awareness and access to relevant information for making sound decisions. The oil and gas industry strives to provide engineers and other professionals with as much information as possible for them to make sound decisions (Hjelle and Monteiro, 2011).

Oil and gas information is one of the most strategic resources of development in the industry. Information is the key input to the modern exploration and production business in the present era of competitive open market economy Mahapatra (2006). Petroleum engineers are not just consumers of information but they generate information a lot because of the high level of productive activities involve in petroleum and natural gas exploration and production. Mahapatra (2006) rightly opined that the scientists and engineers working in oil...

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