the branch of engineering that involves the development and exploitation of crude oil and natural gas fields as well as the technical analysis and forecasting of their future performance. Its origins lie in both mining engineering and geology. The petroleum engineer, whose aim is to extract gaseous and liquid hydrocarbon products from the earth, is concerned with drilling, producing, processing, and transporting these products and handling all the related economic and regulatory considerations. field of engineering that involves the optimized development and exploitation of crude oil and natural gas fields, as well as the technical analysis and forecasting of these fields' future performance. In general, petroleum engineers are not involved in the exploration for new fields, but they may contribute to a joint effort of geologists, geophysicists, and engineers in such endeavours. Petroleum engineers are responsible for the development and production of oil reservoirs after discovery. Petroleum engineering as a discipline may be said to have started with the drilling of the first oil well in Titusville, Pa., in 1859. For many years the United States, relying more on petroleum than other industrialized nations, contributed the most to the development of this profession. The first college department of petroleum engineering in the United States was established in 1914, and many more petroleum engineering programs began in the 1920s and '30s. By the late 20th century more than two dozen colleges offered degrees in petroleum engineering in the United States, and similar programs existed in other oil-producing countries. The first topics of concern to the original colleges were the areas of operations and machinery. As progress in petroleum recovery was made, more importance was placed on ways to maximize the amount of oil recovered from a given reservoir; such topics of study as reservoir characterization, reservoir behaviour, and mathematical simulation using computers began to be emphasized. Major areas of current attention and future importance are tied to computer simulation of drilling, fluid flow in pipe and reservoir rocks, and recovery processes. There are many areas of specialization in petroleum engineering. The drilling of exploratory wells requires engineers to design, plan, and supervise drilling operations. After a new reservoir has been discovered, drilling engineers are responsible for drilling development wells and preparing them for production. Engineering efforts during this stage concentrate on keeping drilling costs to a minimum while ensuring that the completed well is capable of efficient production of oil and gas from the reservoir. After wells are completed and ready for production, production engineers design the equipment needed to pump fluids to the surface; to separate oil, gas, and water; and to store or transport the oil and gas. Production engineers are responsible for the efficient operation of producing wells and for the redesign of any well equipment or surface facilities. Another type of petroleum engineer specialist is called a log analyst, whose responsibilities include evaluating data gathered on wells immediately after drilling. The log analyst determines reservoir properties such as thickness, areal extent, and the saturations of oil, gas, and water. These parameters are needed for calculating the amount of oil and gas in the reservoir. Reservoir engineers are responsible for the overall recovery of petroleum from a reservoir. They study the reservoir's past behaviour in order to forecast the future and ultimate recovery. The reservoir engineer determines if the use of secondary recovery or enhanced oil recovery techniques would be profitable. All petroleum engineers, regardless of their area of specialization, must do economic evaluations to determine which of several options or choices will yield optimum results. These conclusions are then presented to company management. The analytical methods used by petroleum engineers are similar to most other types of engineering, the major difference being that the petroleum reservoir exists far underground-frequently several thousand to 20,000 feet deep. This remoteness means that most petroleum-engineering calculations are based on indirect and imperfect measurements of underground phenomena. Equipment and analytical procedures have been developed for measuring properties of the reservoir rock and fluids, flow rates and pressures, downhole pump operation, and wellbore measurements while drilling. All these and other data are analyzed to assist the petroleum engineer. Computers have assumed increased importance in analyzing data. Additional reading Oil and Gas Journal, vol. 57, no. 5 (Jan. 28, 1959), is a special issue surveying the first 100 years of the petroleum industry, and vol. 75, no. 35 (August 1977), provides additional historical information. Standard textbooks are James W. Amyx, Daniel M. Bass, Jr., and Robert L. Whiting, Petroleum Reservoir Engineering, vol. 1, Physical Properties (1960); T.E.W. Nind, Principles of Oil Well Production, 2nd ed. (1981); Sylvain J. Pirson, Geologic Well Log Analysis, 3rd ed. (1983); and B.C. Craft and M.F. Hawkins, Applied Petroleum Reservoir Engineering, 2nd ed., rev. by Ronald E. Terry (1991). Other informative works include J.S. Archer and C.G. Wall, Petroleum Engineering: Principles and Practice (1986); and Howard B. Bradley (ed.), Petroleum Engineering Handbook (1987). Baxter D. Honeycutt The Editors of the Encyclopdia Britannica

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