Energy (Oil and Gas): Graduate Area of Work

Engineering careers in oil and gas come in great varieties, and may even require graduates to live and work abroad!
The gradsingapore Team

Despite not having any oil reserves, Singapore’s economy owes a great deal of its health to the oil industry, mainly due to its role as one of the world’s leading oil refining centres.

Much of the local activity in this industry takes place in the refineries and plants on Jurong Island.

Currently capable of producing 1.3 million barrels of oil per day, a liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminal was also opened there in 2013 to further consolidate Singapore’s status as a leading oil and gas player in Asia Pacific.

Engineers in this field are usually assigned to either exploration and production (upstream) responsibilities, or refining and marketing (downstream) duties.

The former revolves chiefly around the search and extraction of new oil and gas beds, whereas the latter is about processing crude oil into commercial products for trade.

Although Singapore is primarily a refining hub focusing on downstream services, oil and gas engineers can still expect to be employed into either stream due to the international nature of the industry.

Major employers like ExxonMobil, Shell, BP, and Keppel Corporation tend to send their employees on international secondments and transfers.

Engineers can also consider employment with small independent oil companies, oil services providers, and specialised operators, contractors, and suppliers catering to the needs of this industry.

Trends and developments in oil and gas

As technology advances, the international appetite for energy does too, and the search for new oil and gas beds has intensified as a result.

Subsea explorations now go up to more than 2,000 metres beneath sea level, and are expected to stretch even deeper globally. However, hydrocarbon resources are also growing increasingly scarce, leading to more research into alternative fuels.

Singapore, in particular, has been very encouraging of this trend – as seen by the amount of government investment into R&D, production, and use of biofuels.

Environmental issues continue to remain a looming concern in the industry. Engineers are urged to research ways to reduce the carbon footprint and environmental impact that come with both the sourcing and consumption of fossil fuel products.

What it's like working in the oil and gas industry

There tends to be a lot of movement in this sector, particularly during your first few years.

Expect plenty of transfers between offshore offices and refinery platforms – some of which may even be located halfway across the globe due to the international nature of the oil and gas industry!

The working timescale, on the other hand, varies depending on your employer and the stream that you’re working in.

Involvement with smaller companies and contractors generally means more specialised projects – you may only be working on one project at a time, some of which may last a few years.

Bigger companies, on the other hand, will require you to take on additional assignments alongside your primary project and often have shorter turnaround times.

Upstream projects last far longer than downstream ones by a long shot. The search for a new oil and gas field to the beginning of extraction can take up to five to ten years, while the production phase can last up to 30 years or more!  

Getting a graduate job in oil and gas engineering

Consider taking up internships during your university days to confirm your interest in this field and to add to your hiring value.

Employers in this field tend to place a lot of importance on demonstrated skills and previous experience, and there is no better avenue to gain these than internships.

Upon joining, new engineers are usually apprenticed to experienced seniors. Take this opportunity to explore a specific line in the industry that you’re interested in and work towards it.

Alternatively, you can also work towards additional professional qualifications and chartership for career advancement purposes.

Character-wise, teamwork and strong interpersonal skills are extremely valuable as most projects in this industry are team-based.

Flexibility and the ability to remain cool under pressure are must-haves – things can get extremely fast-paced at extraction platforms and refineries.

Make sure to keep up with the latest developments in climate change, energy supplies, and global political situations as well. The oil and gas industry is often greatly affected by these factors.

The highlights of a career in energy

Oil and gas engineers can look forward to a potentially exciting career because of the rapid growth and constant activity in this industry.

Others look forward to the diverse set of responsibilities that the sector has to offer, which means that work will never be monotonous or repetitive.

If you’re working with an international organisation, you may also get the opportunity to work with and be mentored by engineers from other parts of the world, exposing you to new insights, technologies, and systems within the industry. 

The oil and gas energy industry seeks graduates in...

  • Aerospace/aeronautical
  • Automotive
  • Chemical
  • Civil/structural
  • Control
  • Electrical
  • Electronics
  • Environmental
  • Instruments
  • Manufacturing
  • Materials
  • Mathematics
  • Mechanical
  • Physics
  • Power systems
  • Software
  • Telecoms