Women in Petroleum Engineering
Women play an increasingly vital role in petroleum engineering.
Below are some profiles of successful women working in the petroleum engineering field.
- Bich Thuy Ngo-HoangReservoir Engineering, Santos Ltd
"In high school, I enjoyed physics and mathematics, and wanted to be an engineer. I got into Chemical Engineering at Ho Chi Minh University of technology. After 1 year, I got a scholarship to do Petroleum Engineering at the Australian School of Petroleum, University of Adelaide. I didn't know anything about petroleum engineering at the time, so I had a talk with the Head of the Petroleum Department at HCMUT, who inspired me with the science of the subsurface, which employed all the physics and maths that I had always enjoyed playing around with.
I am now a Reservoir Engineer with Santos and my job is to analyse production data (production rates, pressures, temperature) to understand reservoir behaviour and to predict reservoir performance. My day at work involves incorporating new data into reservoir models, running reservoir simulations and liaising with other teams to develop projects.
To me, the best part of being an Engineer is playing the 'what if' and problem solving game. I am constantly inspired by learning modern technologies."
- Sian StarkGraduate Reservoir Engineer, Beach Energy
"I studied Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at the University of Adelaide because I have always been interested in science. However, it wasn't until I spoke to lecturers and past graduates with industry experience that I realised the full potential of the oil and gas industry. This industry allows me to work on challenging and innovative projects on a daily basis, whilst constantly striving for improvement. Engineering not only involves team work between technical staff but also collaboration with different departments including health, safety, environmental and commercial teams.
I have already had the opportunity to work in two Australian cities with separate roles, involving both office and field work. I've been involved in analysing production data, optimising well performance, field operations, economic analyses, estimating reserves and production forecasting. Both roles have taught me so much and I'm excited that I will continue to learn new tools and technologies for the rest of my career.
If you are a female looking for an exciting career that challenges you daily I would strongly encourage you to pursue a career in Petroleum Engineering. There are ample training and development opportunities, and it truly does inspire you to make a positive difference in an industry which is constantly progressing."
- Marie-Louise LeesSenior Staff Reservoir Engineer, Santos Ltd
"When I went to university there was no degree in petroleum engineering available in Australia, my degree was Chemical Engineering, however we did a petroleum engineering subject which was my first taste of the petroleum industry and I loved it, that inspired me to take a graduate job in the industry, although I started on the surface and went downhole a few years later and never looked back!
I now provide sub-surface engineering support to the Asia Pacific Business unit of Santos which involves operations in Bangladesh, Vietnam and Papua New Guinea. My work is a mixture of reservoir and production engineering. The work I am doing depends on what is happening in each of the areas, when we are drilling I might be planning testing and sampling programs. In the field development phase I can be doing reservoir modelling, PVT modelling and writing field development plans. I also represent Santos at Joint Venture meetings and provide technical input to the operators. In the operations phase I analyse field performance data to ensure our estimates of field reserves are accurate and that field performance is as expected.
I have been an engineer for 26 years and have never stopped learning, every day brings new challenges and I have not worked in the same position for more than three years. I love problem-solving and seeing my ideas put into practice. I am exceptionally well paid and able to work part-time so I can spend time raising my three boys. I have been able to choose my work place (office vs field location) and career path. I have choice in what I do - that makes me very happy.
My inspiration comes from the positive impact of engineering and the petroleum industry on human society. Engineers are the key to high living standards and longevity - it is sewers and not doctors that save lives. Access to energy is a key to good human life and the petroleum industry provides that in the most effective way. I read a book recently that said the petroleum industry saved the whales and the forests by providing an alternative to burning whale oil and wood for fuel - it is great to be a part of an industry that does that."
Advice from Marie-Louise for young women who want to become an engineer:
"Go for it, you will be rewarded with an amazing career. On a more boring note, make sure you do all the maths at school that you can - that's the tough part!"
- Mary GonzalezLecturer, Australian School of Petroleum
Mary received a Bachelor Degree in Petroleum Engineering from Zulia University, Venezuela in 2000 and later, her Post Graduate Degree in Petroleum Engineering from Central de Venezuela University in 2004.
Today, Mary is a Lecturer of Petroleum Engineering at the University of Adelaide. She joined the Australian School of Petroleum in 2009 after several years of experience in the oil and gas industry, most recently as Head of the Adelaide office for Advanced Well Technologies where she provided practical Petroleum Engineering Consultancy Services and Solutions in the areas of Subsurface and Production Engineering. Previous to this, Mary worked for PDVSA E&P and PDVSA Intevep (Technological Division of National Venezuelan Oil Co) in several production, facilities and reservoir engineering roles.
Mary believes that engineering is an enriching experience for women. While the petroleum industry is still a male-dominated area, women engineers and geologists are becoming increasingly common.
"You may be a part of a minority group, but already with a number of women in the industry, it never seemed an issue or a novelty, even in the field. My parents raised me to believe that I could do anything I wanted and always try my best to achieve my dreams, even the personal ones."
Mary's new passion is lecturing. "I feel proud of this great opportunity; I want to be a great role model for all my students, especially the female students."
- Tegan DigbyDrilling Engineer, Santos Ltd
Tegan completed a degree in chemical engineering at the University of Queensland. Since starting work in the oil and gas industry she chose to return to university and has recently completed a Masters of Petroleum Engineering which she studied part time through the Australian School of Petroleum.
As a Drilling Engineer in the International Drilling and Completions Team, Tegan is involved in the planning and execution of drilling oil and gas wells as part of Santos' projects internationally. The work includes preparing cost estimates and tracking costs, contractor management, project management, logistics, calculations and computer modelling associated with well design and the drilling operation, identifying risks and implementing appropriate controls in an effort to ensure EHS targets are met and to optimise costs.
"The best part of being an engineer is the opportunities that come up. There are excellent job prospects, plenty of opportunity to travel and great pay. Engineers are generally in demand and are highly valued.
Don't think being a female will make you any different to anyone else in the engineering field, and nor should it. Although engineering may have been traditionally a male dominated field, this is now not the case. Engineering is a fantastic career choice for both males and females.
Engineers are generally in high demand, do very interesting, diverse and rewarding work, get paid extremely well and can be found in all sorts of roles...you'd be surprised all the places you find engineers working!"
- Gladys ChangPetroleum Engineer, Arrow Energy
Gladys has recently become more heavily involved with coal seam gas reservoirs while working with Arrow Energy. She runs simulation models, the results of which are then fed into the field development plan. She also manages the production database to ensure data is being effectively captured and can be utilised by other engineers for their analyses. Gladys also provides software/technical support and training to others.
"As an engineer you tend to get faced with problems every day be it small or big. Part of the challenge is to come up with an effective solution, but the battle will only be fully won if you are also able to communicate and convince others about the employing the solution. The main challenge is to be able to conquer both."
Advice from Gladys for young women who want to become an engineer:
"There aren't enough women in the industry. The fact that you want to be an engineer already shows that you are not afraid of challenges! Continue to maintain that perspective and don't be afraid of challenges."
Women in ECMS
The Faculty of Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences (ECMS) strives to provide academic and social support, networking opportunities and resources for female students within the Faculty to ensure that they are well positioned to contribute to the future advancement of their chosen field.