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Petroleum engineers become hot property

Petroleum engineers become hot property

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Graduates and professionals in the petroleum engineering industry are hot property - enough for companies to expend their efforts poaching them from rival companies.

Students have made the headlines this year due to protests, a bleak graduate job market, financial struggles and because of clashes with police.

However, as rare an occasion as it seems to be, some graduates are looking forward to job security and a high salary before they have completed their studies.

Reuters has reported that petroleum engineers are some of the most sought-after in the business, with corporations signing students up before they graduate, and often resorting to poaching staff from rival businesses.

It seems the energy market is still going strong in many areas, fractured economy or not. Emily Woner is a 22 year old student who is currently studying petroleum engineering at the University of Tulsa. She is one of many currently completing her training, but due to the skill shortage, is already signed to a company or soon to be so.

"I'm really lucky. In my class, a lot of us are already committed to companies." The student said.

As Reuters noted, it's not based on luck or chance. The exploding popularity of this engineering profession is due to the industry's rush to exploit recent discoveries of vast shale gas and oil fields. This, in turn, has sparked a boom in drilling -- and the industry finds themselves desperately under-staffed to cope with the change in resource acquisition.

Engineering graduates are hot property. Given the chance and requirement for trained staff, corporations will sign trainees up early and try to retain them as long as possible. However, experienced professionals over 30 are just as valuable to the industry, if not more so.

Graduates are signed up early and trained in the company's ways, but those with experience are able to hit the ground running, making them the more enticing option -- if they can be hired.

Petroleum engineers hunt for oil and gas reservoirs, either locked underground or waiting to be discovered thousands of feet below sea level. They may also be involved in the design and implementation of new tools to make drilling more efficient.

The shale industry's lack of available speciality engineers has become the catalyst for sly dealings between rival firms -- who often offer lucrative pay packages, bonuses, housing assistance and are partial to occasionally swiping staff from other businesses.

The role of specialist engineers has become crucial to the industry. Not only are new fields being discovered, but drilling now is taking place in unforgiving landscapes such as the Arctic. U.S-based shale oil reservoirs currently pump approximately one million barrels a day.

Image credit: Nastor Galina/Flickr

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Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure