The tools of this profession can range from low-tech to high
tech, from a rock hammer to geochemical databases or specialized
software and high-precision instruments.
Petroleum Geochemists study the origins of petroleum, how it
moves and where it pools. They analyse oil, gas, sediment, rock and
water to support decisions about exploration, drilling and
Imagine knowing the kind of hydrocarbons being collected by
analyzing samples of drilling sediment, fluids, and cuttings. Your
interpretation of oil and gas compositions might help explain fluid
movement within a reservoir. Picture yourself using geochemical
testing to ensure that abandoned sites are left intact and
Petroleum Geochemists are great at getting into the nitty-gritty
details of things. They're at home in laboratory settings, and have
a knack for computers and specialized equipment. Does this sound
like you? Maybe this career deserves a closer look!
What do Petroleum Geochemists do?
Petroleum Geochemists are Geologists that
specialize in geochemistry. They are employed by oil and gas
operating companies, consultant/service companies, research
facilities, and educational institutions. Examples of jobs
Geochemists: Perform geochemical analyses to increase the
effectiveness and efficiency of exploration and production methods.
They propose procedures to mitigate scaling, corrosion and plugging
of wells and pipelines.
- Consulting Petroleum
Geochemists: Provide geochemical analysis and
interpretation services to clients in the industry. They conduct
modeling and reservoir geochemical studies to determine sources of
reservoir fluids, produced water and bitumen.
- Research Scientists:
Conduct scientific research on organic geochemistry and petroleum
geology. They synthesize and present findings in technical research
reports, journals and presentations.
How do I become a Petroleum Geochemist?
A Bachelor of Science degree in earth sciences with an emphasis
in geochemistryis the minimum requirement. A degree in chemistry or
geology with current experience in geochemistry is also acceptable.
Some employers prefer a Master of Science degree in organic
geochemistry, geology or chemistry.
Roles in research and post secondary educational institutions
require a Ph.D. in geochemistry or a related field.
Members of the Canadian Council of Professional Geoscientists
(CCPG) regulate the profession of geosciences in each of the
jurisdictions in Canada. More information about the Professional
Geoscientists (P.Geo.) designation is availableat www.ccpg.ca.
What are the working conditions like?
Petroleum Geochemists work in offices, laboratories or field
locations. They may travel to remote work sites to gather data and
analyze samples on site. Geochemists working in the field may be
required to cover large distances by foot and lift equipment or
samples weighing up to 25 kilograms. They may also be exposed to
inclement weather. Long and variable hours may be the norm, however
appropriate time off is given. In an office or laboratory setting,
Petroleum Geochemists work regular business hours. Some roles
require that you be on call to respond to emergencies. Others
involve extensive travel within Canada, and internationally.
Do I fit the bill?
Do you think you have what it takes to become a
- I am interested in Earth Sciences,
Geology and Chemistry.
- I have the ability to grasp
mathematics and fundamental scientific principles quickly and
- I have an inquiring and analytical
- I can apply reasoning to solve
complex scientific problems.
- I possess effective decision-making
- I enjoy laboratory work such as
sampling and analysis.
- I can use sophisticated computer
applications, databases, spreadsheets and word processing to
- I pay attention to detail,
particularly when working with precision instruments.
- I possess the physical stamina to
work outdoors in challenging environments.
- I am interested in pursuing a
university education that may require at least four or more years
- I think a career as a Petroleum
Geochemist is exciting and I'm up for the challenge and
Quick tips and next steps!
- While in high school, start
sharpening up your skills and knowledge in mathematics,chemistry,
geography, earth sciences and computers.
- During university, consider research
assistant positions to hone skills in research and laboratory
- Pursue student membership with the
Canadian Society of Petroleum Geologists (CSPG)at www.cspg.org.
- Review Reservoir, a magazine
published by CSPG.
- Review Geochemical News, the official
newsletter of the Geochemical Society or Elements Magazine, a
publication of mineralogical, geochemical and petrology societies.
Find these publications at www.geochemsoc.org.
- Check out the Association of Applied
Geochemists, and read issues of the EXPLORE newsletter at
- Learn more about Canada's agency for
geoscientific information and research. Check outthe Geological
Survey of Canada (GSC) - Natural Resources Canada at gsc.nrcan.gc.ca.
Want more info?
For information on other industry occupations check out