Oil/Petrochemical Industry

Skills for the oil industry

The engineering specialisms such as piping, drilling, chemistry and geology will require the Analyst profile but, as pointed out in my introduction, the central operational activities of these large corporations will embrace accounting, law, IT, marketing, manufacturing, mechanics and construction and hence this industry has scope for all four personality types to develop a structured and motivating career which capitalises on their individual profile.

Its workplace

The oil and petrochemical industry offers great diversity in terms of types of job roles. It is a dynamic industry with innate momentum and suits candidates who prefer to work in an environment, which produces tangible products. The industry is populated mostly with large corporations and salaries are generally above average.

This is a huge industry to describe and my objective is to generally itemise job roles, which are industry specific and if you feel that it is a potential career choice then you can conduct your own research and challenge the depth of your interest. Clearly, as with all large commercial organisations, there are roles within oil companies, which do not require industry specific knowledge or experience. If you are a graduate and are interested in a career in accounting, law, advertising, communications and IT then you will find opportunities within this segment and become an industry specialist.

If you are unfamiliar with the oil/petrochemical industry then the following summary will give you the broad outline.

The industry is divided into two parts: upstream and downstream.

Upstream refers to getting the crude oil out of the ground and downstream refers to the processing of the crude into saleable products.

Upstream will include exploration and production. Drilling rigs will be constructed in specialist yards and, if off-shore, towed by barges to be installed in deep or shallow waters. The drilling rig may be based on land or offshore. The drilling operation requires extensive manual input and hence you may be familiar with this array of fascinating job titles such as riggers, derrick hands, roughnecks, tool-pushers and roustabouts. The executive roles at this stage will include geologists, seismic engineers, safety experts and maintenance engineers to ensure that the rig is continuously operational.

After the oil has been discovered it will be transported by pipes or tankers to refineries and petrochemical plants where it will be refined into fuels and lubricants and, using the petrochemical processes, then manufacturing solvents, detergents and plastics.

We are familiar with petrol and diesel, aviation fuel and engine oil but we may not be aware of the extent of the by-products which have an oil derivation. To list just a sample: aspirin, sunglasses, loudspeakers, hearing aids, pillows, lipstick, life jackets, skis, tennis rackets, tents, combs, toothpaste, tyres, dishwashing liquids, antiseptics, telephones, deodorant, hair colouring, salad bowls, parachutes, carpets, heart valves, credit cards, guitar strings, bandages and anaesthetics.

In terms of employment it is a high profile industry serving a wide breadth of social needs and offering an extensive range of employment opportunities. It pays well and for those who develop niche specialisms they will have the opportunity to work on an international stage.

Pipes are used extensively in the transportation of oil underground or subsea and petrochemical plants will display an amazing array of size and multi-directional pipes, demonstrating the need for the skills of pipe design engineers.

The industry offers opportunities for environmentalists. Oil companies must concentrate more and more on the sustainability aspect of their corporate social responsibility policy (CSR). They are compelled to broaden the scope and remit of stakeholders' inclusion. The damage caused by an oil spill to marine life, fishermen's livelihood and the leisure industry is a case in point.

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