Petrocrats, the new energy professionals
Best Schools: PDPU, Gandhinagar; UPES, Dehradun; RGIPT, Rae Bareilly; ISM, Dhanbad; Dibrugarh University, Dibrugarh; IIT-Madras; MIT, Pune
Qualification: Diploma, BTech, MTech, MBA What you become: Geologist, Geophysicist, Petrophysicist, Drilling engineer, Process control engineer, Health and safety engineer, Reservoir Engineer, Mud Logging engineer, MWD Engineer (Measurement While Drilling), Well Testing analyst, Pipeline Engineer, Design Engineer, Well Stimulation Engineer, R&D Engineer. Sales Officer, Marketing Officer, Business Development Officer
Recruiters: Accenture, Adani, BPCL, British Gas, CRISIL, Deloitte, Essar Oil, GAIL, Gulf Oil, HPCL, Indian Oil, Infosys, Jindal Group, L&T
THE average manpower requirement in petroleum industry is very high compared to other industries, so there will be a lot of vacancies in the near future.
The optmistic view is shared by Prof. P.K. Banik, Director of the School of Petroleum Technology, PDPU, Gandhinagar. “The growth rate in petroleum industry is higher than the national GDP growth rate hence the requirement for petroleum engineers is there,” he elaborates. He is very optimistic about the job scenario in the petroleum sector in the coming years, and according to him two factors will ensure a high demand of qualified professionals in the sector.
In the recent past, though interest has been generated in areas like nuclear energy and solar energy, due to the thrust on environmental concerns, the reality is that these alternative forms of energy have not taken off in India. Hence the focus is likely to remain on the petroleum sector for many years to come. “I expect Petroleum sector to be in focus for the next 25-30 years,” says Prof. Banik. Along with coal oil still remains India’s key to secure its energy needs and economic growth.
Another lucrative aspect of this sector is a relatively stable employment scenario. “Traditionally, employment in this sector is lifetime employment. For example, if one starts his career with IOC, he generally retires with IOC. It’s even so with larger international companies,” says Dr. Parag Diwan, Vice-Chancellor of UPES Dehradun, which according to him is the first petroleum institute in India.
Oil & Gas studies – what is it?
“Interestingly, petroleum engineering is an amalgamation of all engineering disciplines. Full-fledged petroleum engineers must be chemical engineers, they must be electrical engineers, to some extent civil engineers and instrumentation and control engineers. They must know everything. In addition, they must know geology, geophysics, because they must know where the oil and gas reserves are underground, and how oil and gas moves,” explains Prof. Banik, stressing on the multidisciplinary nature of a petroleum engineer.
Further, each institute is employing a unique method to help its students stand apart. “Students work on an MBA dissertation or thesis, a strong 250-page document which they start working on immediately after coming back from their internship. So for be first six months they would do the framework, analysis and in some cases even the data collection and in the last semester they analyse, bring in models, do some forecasting etc. So it runs over the full second year and has eight credits. So, we have heavy research focus in our MBA,” says Dr. Diwan.
At PDPU, the focus is three-pronged: first students are made academically sound. Second, their skill development is taken care of. The third focus is on personality development, including character building.
Profiles of a Petroleum Engineer
“With respect to the knowledge aspect, we reviewed the curriculum last year and removed existing gaps. We offer various subjects to cover functional knowledge, domain knowledge, and basic knowledge, too. Further, adequate electives are offered to enable students to specialise in the area of their choice from Finance, HR etc,” says Prof. Bhavesh Patel.
On further enquiry, one comes to know that the OD (Organisational Development) and OB (Organisational Behaviour) courses, as well as Communication Skills classes focus on skill development. Hailing from India’s premier B-School for HR & OB - XLRI, Jamshedpur - Prof. Patel has evolved a unique methodology for students’ personality development. “Students, on a voluntary basis, do community service in the nearby villages.
We also have a labour colony on campus whom the students educate. Sensitivity to human issues is brought about by another programme because without this the manager is an incomplete manager. In this Human sensitisation programme, they are in contact for some time with people who come in the ‘have not’ category, try to understand their problems and help them continuously for two years,” he explains.
Lectures, conferences and summits where students get a chance to interact with industry experts are, of course, more or less the norm across these institutes now-a-days.
What petroleum engineers do
There are three main areas which a student can choose within Petrochemical engineering to further his career:
1. Upstream: The upstream oil sector is also known as the exploration and production (E&P) sector. This includes searching for potential underground or underwater oil and gas fields, drilling of exploratory wells, and subsequently operating the wells that recover and bring the crude oil and/ or raw natural gas to the surface. And it also includes searching for new forms of energy like Shale oil/ gas or oil from deep sea beds.
2. Midstream: This area of the sector processes, stores, markets and transports commodities such as crude oil, natural gas, natural gas liquids and
3. Downstream: This involves the refining of crude oil and the selling and distribution of natural gas and products derived from crude oil. The downstream sector includes oil refineries, petrochemical plants, petroleum product distribution, retail outlets and natural gas distribution companies .
(Refer to Box for detailed listing of the varied profiles of a petrochemical engineer in the industry)
What you must study
While those with a BTech/ MTech typically stoke the operations arm of the petroleum companies, the management cadre comprising of Marketing, Finance and HR functions are increasingly being hired from the MBA batches of these institutes. “Of the 21 management trainees hired in our organisation this year, 20 come from such specialised institutes,” says Manas Nanavati, a 2010 batch Petro-MBA and management trainee at Bharat Petroleum in Mumbai.
Being a technology-dominant industry, the traditional route of entry has been by getting a BTech or an MTech degree in any discipline of Petroleum Engineering. However, with petroleum institutes like PDPU, UPES and RGIPT opening up in the country, one can also get a specialised BBA or MBA in Oil & Gas sector to kick-start one’s petro-career.
However, probing deeper, one finds that many of these MBAs have actually done engineering at their graduation level. For example, Manas happens to be a Chemical Engineer. Petroleum exploration, extraction, and processing is a very technology-intensive process and therefore skilled manpower intensive. Worker level or unskilled people do not fit the bill and technical persons are required. Even if you are not in a technical job as such, a good understanding of the sector is required and a first technical degree helps.
It is not only in the core Oil & Gas sector that petro-graduates are in demand. Another promising area is the IT companies with domain areas in Oil and Gas. Big IT companies like Wipro & TCS have verticals focussed on Oil and Gas, which is responsible for projects in these industries. They prefer people with IT knowledge and domain knowledge of the Oil & Gas sector.
Secondly, there are a lot of companies into design of off shore structure, off shore drillwell etc, which only petroleum engineers can do as they have these subjects covered in their curriculum unlike a Civil or Mechanical engineer. For example, L&T is a major company in this area. The remuneration, however, remains higher for the core technical jobs, in comparison to these allied opportunities.
“Last year, the average salary was around rupees 4.5 lakhs with the highest salary being 10 lakhs for the MBA batch,” says Bhavesh Patel, Director of School of Petroleum Management at PDPU. Parag Diwan, VC, UPES, Dehradun, agrees that the BTech holders have an edge over the MBAs in placements as it is a technology-dominant industry.
Nihit Jain, Senior Officer, HR with Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation (GSPC) shares that the Sixth Pay Commission made a significant difference to his pay packet. Nihit had joined GSPC in 2008 after completing his MBA-Oil & Gas.
Another interesting fact to note is that 30% of the petroleum engineers produced by India are working abroad. “The student preference is clearly for international companies like British Gas and Schlumburger, being in direct proportion to what they pay,” says Dr. Parag Diwan. Obviously, the perks too are on the higher side.
Though salaries are lucrative and the prospects are bright, the conditions in which one has to work in the field are often trying. “We send students for a three-week rural internship programme right after the completion of the first year of their studies to acclimatise them to the harsh conditions, so as to prepare them well for a job in the demanding petroleum sector,” says Prof. Banik. It can be physically very demanding and social life is almost zilch.
You can expect to be at an offshore drilling site like Bombay High, or in the desert regions, or even the hilly terrain of the North East with little company. In fact, the sector seems to have something in common with the Merchant Navy - the going is tough, but the tough laugh all the way to the bank.
“Even non-petroleum companies hire our students”
Q. Do you think there is enough demand from the Petroleum industry to absorb all these students?
Q. From your students, what percentage land up in the Oil & Gas sector and what percentage are in allied services like banks and IT firms?
Q. Are Oil & Gas profiles high paying?
Q. What is your admission criteria?
Q. So every student specialises in Oil & Gas instead of Marketing, Finance etc?
‘Sectoral inclination is crucial in a named MBA’
Q. How many students you would be teaching at a time in the Oil & Gas sector?
Q. Do all of them get placed in the Oil & Gas sector or do some of them go to the allied sectors?
Q. So, all of them will be going into the Oil & Gas sector?
Q. What is the typical salary an MBA gets?
Q. So what is the typical profile of an MBA in the sector?
Courses and Institutions
Name of Institute
Fee (INR lacs incl. B&L)
MBA (Oil and Gas)
PGD in Petroleum Mgmt for Executives (PGDPM-X) (Part Time)
BTech in Petroleum Engineering
MBA (Oil & Gas Management)
MBA (Energy Trading)
Executive MBA (Oil & Gas) (Part-Time)
MTech (Petroleum Exploration)
MTech (Health, Safety &
MTech (Pipeline Engineering)
MTech (Process Design Engineering)
BTech Applied Petroleum Engineering with specialisation in Upstream
BTech Applied Petroleum Engineering with Specialisation in Gas
BTech Chemical Engineering with Specialisation in Refining & Petrochemicals
BTech Geo-Informatics Engineering
BTech Geo Sciences Engineering
BBA (Oil & Gas Marketing)
Rae Bareli, Uttar Pradesh
MBA (Petroleum & Energy Management)
MTech in Petroleum Engineering
MTech in Petroleum Exploration
BTech in Petroleum Reservoir and Production Engineering
BTech in Petroleum Refining Engineering
BTech in Petroleum Engineering
Dual Degree BTech + MTech in
MTech Petroleum Engineering
MTech Petroleum Exploration
MTech in Petroleum Exploration and Production
Diploma in Oil Well Drilling Technology
MTech in Petroleum Geology
APGD in Petroleum Exploration Geophysics
MTech in Petroleum Engg.
B.E. in Petroleum Engineering
3 lacs +B/L
M.E. in Petroleum Engineering
1.5 lacs + B/L