Petrophysicists are professionals who help companies to extract sufficient amounts of gas and oil from the ground. They do this by studying reservoir rocks to determine ways to recover oil for production. These types of individuals typically must have at least two-year master’s degrees in engineering, science, or geosciences. Some employers prefer professionals who have completed four- to five-year doctoral degree programs in physics or engineering. A petrophysicist needs to have years of field experience and be able to work well both independently and in a team environment.
Petrophysicists must be able to develop experiments that lead to new information about the properties of rocks. This information deals with concepts such as permeability and porosity. Permeability refers to whether a rock has large or small pores that allow fluids to easily get into the rock or restrict the rock from absorbing fluids. Meanwhile, porosity is a measure of how much void space is present in a rock. A petrophysicist must understand these concepts in order to determine the best methods for drawing gas or oil out of the ground when the gas or oil is surrounded by rocks.
In addition to putting together studies on various rock qualities, a scientist who helps to bring oil from the ground must interpret the results of his or her experiments. A petrophysicist needs to possess strong verbal and written communication skills to report the results of rock studies to company officials by established deadlines. These experts include those who work in the company’s subsurface engineering and drilling departments. The company departments use the results of experiments to adjust current well operations.
Strong interpersonal skills also are necessary in the roles of physicists who study rocks. Petrophysicists have to grow and maintain professional relationships with scientists in other geographic areas. Networking allows these scientists to gain information about what other petrophysicists are doing and to share ideas in an effort to create completely new oil extraction plans.
A person who focuses on how rocks and fluids function together in the scientific field must stay current on this constantly evolving industry. Seminars at scientific conferences along with university training classes will keep a petrophysicist up-to-date on changes in the field. In addition to constantly learning new industry trends, technologies, and methods, a petrophysicist should be willing to share information about brand new or developed technologies with his or her company research team.