Reservoir engineering involves assessing oil and gas deposits. Reservoir engineers firstly estimate the size of a reservoir, then determine how much oil and gas reserves are in the reservoir and finally work out how to maximize the economic return from extracting them.

Since it is usually not possible to physically ascertain what's under the ground, a reservoir engineer needs to find other ways to establish what is there. They work together with geologists and geophysicists to find the reserves of oil and gas while relying on the basic laws of physics and chemistry. These include applying the behavioral effects of liquid and vapour phases of oil, natural gas, and water in rock.

The next step is to determine the economic feasibility of extracting the gas. Then, assuming it is viable on paper, a well is produced. After that, the reservoir engineer will keep track of reserve production progress until completion.  

The ultimate responsibility of the reservoir engineer is to maximise the output of the reservoir without causing overproduction. Overproduction implies producing more than storage, transport, processing and selling capacity at any given time. This generally leads to wasted resources and shortens the lifespan of the reservoir.

Reservoir engineers generally operate in an office with occasional site visits.

Types of Reservoir Engineering 

There are several types of reservoir engineers:

  • Surveillance engineers - monitor existing reservoirs
  • Production engineers - work at optimising production rates of oil and gas
  • Simulation modelling engineers - conduct simulation studies to locate potential reservoirs
  • Geothermal engineers - develop and maintain hot water and steam reservoirs