Complex Jobs in the Petroleum and Oil Refinery Industry

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In a petroleum industry, the oil jobs of the petroleum refinery workers are indeed very challenging. They operate machines that refine crude petroleum into gasoline, kerosene, fuel and lubricating oils, gases, solvents, asphalts, waxes, greases, and petroleum coke. They use several different heating and treating processes to make oil into these products. Refining gas jobs involve purifying, heating, and pressurizing as some methods of treatment.

It can be recalled that before the nineteenth century, many people used whale oil to light lamps. No engines were yet in use. Electricity had not yet been discovered. But whale oil was not easy to get, and people began to drill oil wells to find a replacement. Crude oil has few uses, but people learned to boil it to obtain kerosene. The rest of the oil they threw away - this part contained gasoline. With the Industrial Revolution, however, many different fuels and lubricants became necessary, and many were developed from petroleum. Today, petroleum products run our cars, make up our faces, clothe our bodies, fuel our jet planes, and fulfill thousands of other functions.

Through the oil gas jobs operation, petroleum is refined in many ways to make many products. First, however, it is heated in pipes in a huge furnace. The heated oils produce vapors, which pass into tall fractionating tanks, where they condense into fractions, or different parts. Pipes set at different levels draw off the fractions, including gasoline, kerosene, diesel, jet fuels, fuel oils, waxes, asphalt, coke, and lubricants. Some of these products are ready for use. Others are processed further to purify or alter them. In cracking, heat and pressure turn heavy oils into high-octane gasoline. Other fractions go to petrochemical plants, where they are made into plastics, fabrics, synthetics, medicines, cosmetics, detergents, and thousands of other products.

In oil employment, the petroleum refining industry employs workers in four broad categories: operations, maintenance, engineering, and scientific support. Operations workers run the vast array of machines that refine petroleum, usually from control panels far removed from the actual machinery. Control-panel operators take charge of the control operation to regulate the temperature, pressure, rate of flow, and tank level in petroleum-refining and petrochemical-processing units. They observe and regulate meters and instruments to process petroleum under specified conditions. Furnace operators pump the crude petroleum or refined products through the processing, storage, and shipping departments of refineries. After fractionating, treaters and their helpers control equipment that removes impurities and improves the quality of gasoline, kerosene, and lubricants, using steam, clay, hydrogen, solvents, and chemicals. Certain refined oils are blended to achieve specific qualities or make specific fuels. Compounders and their helpers add antioxidants, corrosion inhibitors, detergents, and other additives to enhance lubricating oils for autos, industry, and other uses. Blenders blend gasoline with chemicals, lead, or distilled crude oil to make specified commercial fuel.

Generally, jobs in oil comprise the operation of petrochemical-processing plants. Paraffin-plant operators operate filter presses to separate oil of paraffin distillate from paraffin wax. Paraffin-plant-sweater-operators operate sweater tanks to separate liquid from processed paraffin distillate. Lead recoverers at napthala-treating plants operate centrifuge machines that separate lead. This compound is used to treat gasoline. Scientists and engineers plan refining plants, devise ways to treat and improve products and develop refinery processes. Refineries employ chemical engineering technicians to help chemical engineers plan, design, and test refining plants. Drafters draw plans for the layout, operation, and construction of petroleum refining equipment. Others test sample products in laboratories and in engines to make sure they meet company specifications and perform well in engines. These are just a few of the many scientific support workers who help refine petroleum.

Also, oil and gas jobs in refineries are a variety of managers and supervisors. Contract managers negotiate purchase and delivery of crude oil for refining and sale of refineries’ products. Title clerks process paperwork to grant oil companies right to lease or purchase land for oil drilling. Bulk plant managers manage storage and distribution facilities for petroleum products. Meanwhile, dispatchers regulate the flow of products through refineries’ processing, treating, and shipping departments. In addition, all processes at refineries are headed by supervisors, who coordinate workers’ activities, plan production schedules, and oversee processes.

To acquire an oil job in this industry, petroleum refining operators may need only a high-school diploma. Engineers and scientists need advanced degrees. Maintenance workers may need some special training in repairing certain kinds of equipment.

Production workers learn most of their skills on the job. Courses in physics, chemistry, mathematics, and computer science, however, may help them learn these skills more readily. Apprenticeships are also available to teach workers about specialized maintenance jobs.

Because refineries run twenty-four hours a day, late-shift work may also be available to those exploring the industry. Advancement in the petroleum refining industry depends on experience, judgment, and type of position.

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