Petrocrats, the new energy professionals

Fast Facts
Best Schools: PDPU, GandhinagarUPES, Dehradun; RGIPT, Rae Bareilly; ISM, Dhanbad; Dibrugarh University, Dibrugarh; IIT-Madras; MIT, Pune

Qualification: Diploma, BTech, MTech, MBA What you become: Geologist, Geophysicist, Petrophysicist, Drilling engineer, Process control engineer, Health and safety engineer, Reservoir Engineer, Mud Logging engineer, MWD Engineer (Measurement While Drilling), Well Testing analyst, Pipeline Engineer, Design Engineer, Well Stimulation Engineer, R&D Engineer. Sales Officer, Marketing Officer, Business Development Officer

Recruiters: Accenture, Adani, BPCL, British Gas, CRISIL, Deloitte, Essar Oil, GAIL, Gulf Oil, HPCL, Indian Oil, Infosys, Jindal Group, L&T

average manpower requirement in petroleum industry is very high compared to other industries, so there will be a lot of vacancies in the near future.

The optmistic view is shared by Prof. P.K. Banik, Director of the School of Petroleum Technology, PDPU, Gandhinagar. “The growth rate in petroleum industry is higher than the national GDP growth rate hence the requirement for petroleum engineers is there,” he elaborates. He is very optimistic about the job scenario in the petroleum sector in the coming years, and according to him two factors will ensure a high demand of qualified professionals in the sector.

In the recent past, though interest has been generated in areas like nuclear energy and solar energy, due to the thrust on environmental concerns, the reality is that these alternative forms of energy have not taken off in India. Hence the focus is likely to remain on the petroleum sector for many years to come. “I expect Petroleum sector to be in focus for the next 25-30 years,” says Prof. Banik.  Along with coal oil still remains India’s key to secure its energy needs and economic growth.

Another lucrative aspect of this sector is a relatively stable employment scenario. “Traditionally, employment in this sector is lifetime employment. For example, if one starts his career with IOC, he generally retires with IOC. It’s even so with larger international companies,” says Dr. Parag Diwan, Vice-Chancellor of UPES Dehradun, which according to him is the first petroleum institute in India.

Oil & Gas studies – what is it?
“Interestingly, petroleum engineering is an amalgamation of all engineering disciplines. Full-fledged petroleum engineers must be chemical engineers, they must be electrical engineers, to some extent civil engineers and instrumentation and control engineers. They must know everything. In addition, they must know geology, geophysics, because they must know where the oil and gas reserves are underground, and how oil and gas moves,” explains Prof. Banik, stressing on the multidisciplinary nature of a petroleum engineer.

Further, each institute is employing a unique method to help its students stand apart. “Students work on an MBA dissertation or thesis, a strong 250-page document which they start working on immediately after coming back from their internship. So for be first six months they would do the framework, analysis and in some cases even the data collection and in the last semester they analyse, bring in models, do some forecasting etc. So it runs over the full second year and has eight credits. So, we have heavy research focus in our MBA,” says Dr. Diwan.

At PDPU, the focus is three-pronged: first students are made academically sound. Second, their skill development is taken care of. The third focus is on personality development, including character building.

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Profiles of a Petroleum Engineer

  • Geologists can tell about the Oil & Gas reserves.


  •  Geophysicists  tell you where the Oil and Gas is by conducting various surveys.


  •  Petrophysicists evaluate the reservoir rock properties by employing well log measurements, in which a string of measurement tools are inserted in the borehole


  •  Drilling engineers design and implement procedures to drill wells as safely and economically as possible

“With respect to the knowledge aspect, we reviewed the curriculum last year and removed existing gaps. We offer various subjects to cover functional knowledge, domain knowledge, and basic knowledge, too. Further, adequate electives are offered to enable students to specialise in the area of their choice from Finance, HR etc,” says Prof. Bhavesh Patel.

On further enquiry, one comes to know that the OD (Organisational Development) and OB (Organisational Behaviour) courses, as well as Communication Skills classes focus on skill development.  Hailing from India’s premier B-School for HR & OB - XLRI, Jamshedpur - Prof. Patel has evolved a unique methodology for students’ personality development. “Students, on a voluntary basis, do community service in the nearby villages.

We also have a labour colony on campus whom the students educate. Sensitivity to human issues is brought about by another programme because without this the manager is an incomplete manager. In this Human sensitisation programme, they are in contact for some time with people who come in the ‘have not’ category, try to understand their problems and help them continuously for two years,” he explains.

Lectures, conferences and summits where students get a chance to interact with industry experts are, of course, more or less the norm across these institutes now-a-days.

What petroleum engineers do
There are three main areas which a student can choose within Petrochemical engineering to further his career:

1. Upstream: The upstream oil sector is also known as the exploration and production (E&P) sector. This includes searching for potential underground or underwater oil and gas fields, drilling of exploratory wells, and subsequently operating the wells that recover and bring the crude oil and/ or raw natural gas to the surface.  And it also includes searching for new forms of energy like Shale oil/ gas or oil from deep sea beds.

2. Midstream: This area of the sector processes, stores, markets and transports commodities such as crude oil, natural gas, natural gas liquids and

3. Downstream: This involves the refining of crude oil and the selling and distribution of natural gas and products derived from crude oil. The downstream sector includes oil refineries, petrochemical plants, petroleum product distribution, retail outlets and natural gas distribution companies .

(Refer to Box for detailed listing of the varied profiles of a petrochemical engineer in the industry)

What you must study
While those with a BTech/ MTech typically stoke the operations arm of the petroleum companies, the management cadre comprising of Marketing, Finance and HR functions are increasingly being hired from the MBA batches of these institutes.  “Of the 21 management trainees hired in our organisation this year, 20 come from such specialised institutes,” says Manas Nanavati, a 2010 batch Petro-MBA and management trainee at Bharat Petroleum in Mumbai.

Being a technology-dominant industry, the traditional route of entry has been by getting a BTech or an MTech degree in any discipline of Petroleum Engineering.  However, with petroleum institutes like PDPU, UPES and RGIPT opening up in the country, one can also get a specialised BBA or MBA in  Oil & Gas sector to kick-start one’s  petro-career.

However, probing deeper, one finds that many of these MBAs have actually done engineering at their graduation level. For example, Manas happens to be a Chemical Engineer. Petroleum exploration, extraction, and processing is a very technology-intensive process and therefore skilled manpower intensive. Worker level or unskilled people do not fit the bill and technical persons are required. Even if you are not in a technical job as such, a good understanding of the sector is required and a first technical degree helps.

Opportunities galore
It is not only in the core Oil & Gas sector that petro-graduates are in demand. Another promising area is the IT companies with domain areas in Oil and Gas. Big IT companies like Wipro & TCS have verticals focussed on Oil and Gas, which is responsible for projects in these industries. They prefer people with IT knowledge and domain knowledge of the Oil & Gas sector.

Secondly, there are a lot of companies into design of off shore structure, off shore drillwell etc, which only petroleum engineers can do as they have these subjects covered in their curriculum unlike a Civil or Mechanical engineer. For example, L&T is a major company in this area. The remuneration, however, remains higher for the core technical jobs, in comparison to these allied opportunities.

“Last year, the average salary was around rupees 4.5 lakhs with the highest salary being 10 lakhs for the MBA batch,” says Bhavesh Patel, Director of School of Petroleum Management at PDPU. Parag Diwan, VC, UPES, Dehradun, agrees that the BTech holders have an edge over the MBAs in placements as it is a technology-dominant industry.

Nihit Jain, Senior Officer, HR with Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation (GSPC) shares that the Sixth Pay  Commission made a significant difference to his pay packet. Nihit had joined GSPC in 2008 after completing his MBA-Oil & Gas.

Opportunities abroad
Another interesting fact to note is that 30% of the petroleum engineers produced by India are working abroad. “The student preference is clearly for international companies like British Gas and Schlumburger, being in direct proportion to what they pay,” says Dr. Parag Diwan. Obviously, the perks too are on the higher side.

The flipside
Though salaries are lucrative and the prospects are bright, the conditions in which one has to work in the field are often trying. “We send students for a three-week rural internship programme right after the completion of the first year of their studies to acclimatise them to the harsh conditions, so as to prepare them well for a job in the demanding petroleum sector,” says Prof. Banik. It can be physically very demanding and social life is almost zilch.

You can expect to be at an offshore drilling site like Bombay High, or in the desert regions, or even the hilly terrain of the North East with little  company. In fact, the sector seems to have something in common with the Merchant Navy - the going is tough, but the tough laugh all the way to the bank. 



Prof. Bhavesh Patel,
Director, PDU Petroleum University, Gandhinagar, Gujarat

“Even non-petroleum companies hire our students”

Q. What was the need to start a specialised Petroleum MBA?
A. From a university perspective, we wanted to build a holistic university with programmes to complement its techno  logy programmes. As you know, technology alone is not sufficient; you need people who can manage the technology.

In our MBA programme, we bring a thorough understanding of the industry, starting with the legal and regulatory aspect of it, accounting issues, risk management issues, contracting issues, whichever the critical issues related to the industry. Those who do MBA from our institute are so much aware about the issues that are unique to this sector.

Q. Do you think there is enough demand from the Petroleum industry to absorb all these students?
A. If you look at the placement data, demand is more than enough as of now. If you say that all the demand is from the Oil & Gas sector, it is not true. We have two to three banks coming to our campus, because many banks have a large portfolio of loans in the energy sector. Similarly, many management consulting firms who have a petroleum vertical come to recruit. And last year we also had IT companies like TCS coming to our campus to hire for their energy vertical. So the demand is very much there.

Q. From your students, what percentage land up in the Oil & Gas sector and what percentage are in allied services like banks and IT firms?
A. From last year’s placement data I would say 50% go to the Oil & Gas sector directly and the other 50% in the allied services like banking or IT or other support services.

Q. Are Oil & Gas profiles high paying?
A. Yes and No! When we talk about Oil and Natural gas sector, they are largely public sector companies with fixed pay structures. Very few of them go by the demand and supply scenario. There are however, some companies from the services side that are willing to pay substantially more because they are generally private sector companies.

Q. What is your admission criteria?
A. We consider CAT scores to shortlist candidates for the interview and GDs. The CAT score cut-off is 84 percentile but without any sectional cut-off. However, we are in the process of reviewing the sectional cut-off criterion.

Q. So every student specialises in Oil & Gas instead of Marketing, Finance etc?
A. The student has the opportunity to take up subjects from one or other areas like Marketing, Finance etc. But all subjects have a clear focus on the Oil and Gas sector. Even the degree awarded is MBA (Oil & Gas). We have recently started expanding into energy and Infrastructure because the demand from the industry is coming for that but largely it is Oil & Gas. 




Dr. Parag Diwan,
VC, UPES, Dehradun

‘Sectoral inclination is crucial in  a named MBA’

Q. What is unique about an MBA - Petroleum that it warrants a dedicated institute to the sector?
A. In a sectoral MBA there are courses which are called domain knowledge courses which give them in depth domain knowledge. These are important because otherwise, like in the past, you hire a normal MBA, then acquaint him with the industry knowledge – what is exploration, what is refinery and intricacies of that. So that obviates this thing, if a person is joining this course, he has already made the choice of joining the Oil & Gas sector. So for the company:
a) The is a person who is inclined towards the industry and will not run away to the FMCG sector
b) They don’t have to do extensive management training

Q. How many students you would be teaching at a time in the Oil & Gas sector?
A. We have six to seven products including the BTech, MTech and the MBA Approx. 25% of my whole capacity is in Oil & Gas. So, altogether I have 4200 strength, so 800 people in different years of their studies are pursuing courses in the Oil & Gas sector.

Q. Do all of them get placed in the Oil & Gas sector or do some of them go to the allied sectors?
A. Our institute is like a refinery with so many BTechs, so many MTechs and so many MBAs. Now the composition can vary depending on the prognosis of the industry four years down the line. So BTech takes 4 years of gestation and MTech/MBA two years and we forecast accordingly that whether Upstream, Downstream or Gas are going to be on upswing or downswing and we keep the number accordingly. 

Q. So, all of them will be going into the Oil & Gas sector?
. So far we have been successful in placing them in their various niches. We have been having 90-100% placements. Initially it was 100%, now it is 90-95%.

Q. What is the typical salary an MBA gets?
A. It ranges anything between 8-10 lakhs. Some of the BTech students, however, have got international offers of 20 lakhs. Of course, these are dollar denominated  and outside the country.

Q. So what is the typical profile of an MBA in the sector?
A. We also work on a unique philosophy which is called as the double competency philosophy. We prefer that the entrance to our MBA programmes are tech-oriented. If they want to be in Oil & Gas, we want them to be Chemical engineers, Instrumentation & Process, Electrical, Mechanical engineers so they have double competencies. Therefore, 90% of our batch would comprise of engineers.  So they use their basic competency of being an engineer and complement it with planning skills like how much to produce, how much gross margin to keep, what will be the outlay etc.

Courses and Institutions

Name of Institute




Fee (INR lacs incl. B&L)

School of Petroleum
Management, Pandit Deendayal Petroleum University

Gandhinagar, Gujarat

MBA (Oil and Gas)

2 years




Executive MBA

15 months




PGD in Petroleum Mgmt for Executives (PGDPM-X) (Part Time)

2 years


School of Petroleum Technology, Pandit Deendayal Petroleum University

Gandhinagar, Gujarat

BTech in Petroleum Engineering

4 years


University of Petroleum & Energy Studies


MBA (Oil & Gas Management)

2 years




MBA (Energy Trading)

2 years




Executive MBA (Oil & Gas) (Part-Time)

3 years




MTech (Petroleum Exploration)

2 years




MTech (Health, Safety &
Environmental Engineering)

2 years




MTech (Pipeline Engineering)

2 years




MTech (Process Design Engineering)

2 years




BTech Applied Petroleum Engineering with specialisation in Upstream

4 years




BTech Applied Petroleum Engineering with Specialisation in Gas

4 years




BTech Chemical Engineering with Specialisation in Refining & Petrochemicals

4 years




BTech Geo-Informatics Engineering

4 years




BTech Geo Sciences Engineering

4 years




BBA (Oil & Gas Marketing)

3 years


Rajiv Gandhi Institute of
Petroleum Technology

Rae Bareli, Uttar Pradesh

MBA (Petroleum & Energy Management)

2 years




MTech in Petroleum Engineering

3 years




MTech in Petroleum Exploration

4 years




BTech in Petroleum Reservoir and Production Engineering

4 years




BTech in Petroleum Refining Engineering

4 years


ISM Dhanbad

Dhanbad, Jharkhand

BTech in Petroleum Engineering

4 years




Dual Degree BTech + MTech in
Petroleum Engineering

5 years




MTech Petroleum Engineering

2 years




MTech Petroleum Exploration

2 years


Dibrugarh University

Dibrugarh, Assam

MTech in Petroleum Exploration and Production

2 years




Diploma in Oil Well Drilling Technology

1 year




MTech in Petroleum Geology

2 years




APGD in Petroleum Exploration Geophysics

1 year



Tamil Nadu

MTech in Petroleum Engg.

2 year


MIT, Pune

Pune, Maharashtra

B.E. in Petroleum Engineering

4 year

3 lacs +B/L

M.E. in Petroleum Engineering

2 year

1.5 lacs + B/L

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