The use of oil and gas has a long and fascinating history spanning thousands of years. The development of oil and gas has evolved over time and its numerous uses have also expanded and become an integral part of today's global economy.
Ancient cultures used crude oil as a substance for binding materials and as a sealant for waterproofing various surfaces. Five thousand years ago, the Summerians used asphalt to inlay mosaics in walls and floors. Mesopotamians used bitumen to line water canals, seal joints in wooden boats and to build roads.
The Chinese were the first to discover underground oil deposits in salt wells. The Chinese quickly recognized the importance and potential use of oil and gas. Around 500 B.C., ancient Chinese history describes wells over 100 feet deep containing water and natural gas along the Tibetan border. Extensive bamboo pipelines were constructed to draw from the wells to transport oil and natural gas, the primary use at this stage was lighting.
The use of oil replaced coal as the world's primary source of industrial power in the early twentieth century. The control and availability of oil and gas played a major role in both World Wars and still remains the critical fuel source that powers industry and transportation today.
WHAT IS OIL AND GAS?
Oil and natural gas are naturally occurring chemicals that are made up of just two elements; carbon and hydrogen. The class of chemicals based on carbon and hydrogen are called hydrocarbons. As its name suggests, natural gas comes out of the ground as a gas; oil, gasoline and other hydrocarbons are recovered as a liquid known as crude oil.
Before crude oil can be used, it is sent to a refinery where it is physically, thermally and chemically separated into fractions and then converted into finished products. About 90% of these products are fuels such as gasoline, aviation fuels, distillate and residual oil, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), coke and kerosene. Refineries also produce non-fuel products, including petrochemicals, asphalt, road oil, lubricants, solvents and wax. Petrochemicals (ethylene, propylene, benzene and others) are shipped to chemical plants, where they are used to manufacture chemicals and plastics.
The petroleum industry is generally recognised as broken into three sectors known as:
- Upstream: The upstream sector is used to refer to the search for, recovery and production of crude oil and natural gas. This sector is also commonly known as the exploration and production sector. Stages within the upstream petroleum-product industry include the search for underground or underwater oil and gas fields which generally involvesthe drilling of exploratory wells. If the wells are deemed economically viable and recoverable the next stage of production andoperation of wells that bring crude oil and raw natural gas to the well's surface and onshore is initiated.
- Midstream: The midstream sector can include some elements of both the upstream and downstream sectors. However, the main component of midstream is the gathering system. Gathering systems are oil and natural gas storage areas or terminals where raw produced products are held until they can be transported via pipeline, rail or tanker to the refinery where they are converted into marketable petroleum products.
- Downstream:The downstream sector refers to the refining of crude oil, and the selling and distribution of natural gas and products that are derived from crude oil. Such products can include LPG, petroleum, jet fuel, diesel fuel, fuel oils, asphalt and petroleum coke. The downstream segment includes oil refineries, petrochemical plants, petroleum distribution outlets, retail outlets and natural gas distribution companies. The downstream sector touches consumers through thousands of products from motor fuels to lubricants and fertilizers to pharmaceuticals. Downstream is the commercial side of the business.
Outside of the above there are also pipeline, marine, service and supply sectors. The majority of upstream work offshore/in the oil field is generally contracted out to drilling contractors and maintenance/service companies.
ADVANTAGES OF OIL AND GAS
- Around 40% of our energy comes from oil.
- It is relatively easy to distribute and transport.
- Oil fired power stations can be very efficient.
- Oil fired power stations can be built anywhere as long as large amounts of oil can be transported to it.
- It is the cleanest burning fossil fuel.
- It is relatively cheap to extract and to convert into energy.
- It is convenient; the energy source is piped directly to the customer's facility through a safe, efficient pipeline system.
- It is reliable; the pipeline system can't be easily damaged by weather or affected by weather conditions.
WHERE DOES IT COME FROM?
All of the natural gas we use today began as microscopic plants and animals living in the ocean millions of years ago. As these microscopic plants and animals lived, they absorbed energy from the sun, which was stored as carbon molecules in their bodies. When they died, they sank to the bottom of the sea. Over millions of years, layer after layer of sediment and other plants and bacteria were formed. As they became buried ever deeper, heat and pressure began to rise. The amount of pressure and the degree of heat, along with the type of biomass, determined if the material became oil or natural gas. Very high degrees of heat or biomass made predominantlyof plant material produced natural gas.
After oil and natural gas were formed, they migrated through tiny pores in the surrounding rock. Some oil and natural gas migrated all the way to the surface and escaped. Other oil and natural gas deposits migrated until they were caught under impermeable layers of rock or clay, where they were trapped. These trapped deposits are where we find oil and natural gas today.
WHERE IS IT USED?
Along with coal, oil and gas are the most important energy sources and are used in the majority of countries worldwide. Almost 90% of the energy which is used in the world comes from coal, oil and natural gas.
WHY CHOOSE A CAREER IN OIL AND GAS?
Oil and gas is in high demand, the oil and gas fields in the North Sea were expected to be depleted by now. New technology however is allowing operators to continue to extract oil from current fields and exploration is underway elsewhere off UK shores as well as numerous other locations around the globe. This means that there is high demand for engineers and associated personnel in this industry.
High volumes of work have been initiated to keep the ageing existing assets alive and to ensure they are up to current regulatory and safety standards. There are also numerous new build "brownfield" and "greenfield" projects underway or planned. All of this means working in the oil and gas industry is an exciting choice with excellent prospects. It will provide you with a career with no boundaries internationally, that could take you to work on a North Sea rig offshore, overseas on new build or UK on-shore in one of the many design offices. Other reasons to join the industry include:
- The average salary is far in excess of the national average in the UK. There is potential to earn even higher pay by working abroad.
- The oil and gas industry is growing exponentially; there is a serious skills shortage and hence high demand for qualified staff, especially in the North Sea. The UK itself has a major resource shortage across all disciplines meaning there are tens of thousands of unfilled vacancies within the industry, this makes placement of engineers with no Oil and Gas experience possible in the current climate.
WHAT PERSONNEL ARE IN DEMAND WHO SHOULD CONTACT US?
The UK alone has a major resource shortage across all disciplines; there are numerous roles available in oil and gas across a diverse range of skilsets. You should contact us if you believe you would like to transfer to this industry, demand means there are likely to be opportunities regardless of your background.
Typically the following personnel can transfer with ease with a little assistance:
Project Managers, Project Engineers, Process engineers and designers, Piping engineers and designers, Electrical engineers and designers, Mechanical engineers and designers, Structural engineers and designers, Instrumentation engineers and designers, Safety personnel, Technical Safety engineers, planning engineers, document controllers, admin personnel.
There is also a demand for senior commercial and managerial roles such as business development and sales managers, those with Technical Safety experience, environmental impact assessors, government relations, those with niche expertise of drilling and geosciences for exploration and production.
In addition to this there is demand for HSE advisors, contract specialists, subsea engineers, subsea fitters and flow assurance engineers, operators, technicians and engineers with local liquefied natural gas (LNG) experience.
Around the globe we are seeing record levels of investment and demand for qualified staff. Working in the gas and oil industry is an exciting choice and should prove to be a career with longevity and prospects.
TALK TO US ABOUT GETTING AHEAD OF THE GAME AND HOW WE CAN ASSIST YOU IN YOUR TRANSFER TO THE OIL AND GAS INDUSTRY.
- In many instances no training will be required prior to placement; we will put you in touch with employers happy to engage you with your current skills and qualifications.
- We can advise on training and assist with placing you on a relevant course should training be required.
- We will advise on offshore training or assist should going offshore prove to be of interest. Personnel already offshore survival trained are always in demand.