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Summary of occupation

Petrophysicists study and analyse the chemical and physical properties of oil and gas deposits, including the surrounding rocks and soil. They collect and examine data about these reservoirs including, rock density, pore pressure, electrical and acoustic properties of the rock and the level of radioactivity. The data they collect can be used to estimate how porous the rocks are, the volume of oil and/or gas present and whether it can be extracted. Petrophysicists play a vital role in the search for and recovery of new oil and gas reserves, and are involved in the management of mineral resources from initial exploration right through the appraisal of deposits to development and production management.

ANZSCO description: Petrophysicists study and analyse the chemical  and physical properties of oil and gas deposits, including the  surrounding rocks and soil.
Alternative names: Formation Evaluators, Well Log Analysts
Job prospects: Good
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

A petrophysicist needs:

  • an interest in scientific and technical activities
  • the ability to work both independently and as part of a team
  • good communication and report writing skills
  • analytical and problem-solving ability
  • high level of computing skills
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Working conditions

Petrophysicists usually work for oil and gas mining companies, either in offices or in the field. Fieldwork is frequently in remote locations, particularly in the state's North-West, or on offshore drilling platforms. When conducting fieldwork, the hours of work can be long and often include working evenings and on weekends, in most weather conditions. Petrophysicists working in an office environment generally work standard business hours, though overtime may be required, particularly during operations. A large part of their work is done on computers.

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Salary details

On average, petrophysicists, classified under geologists, can expect to earn between $2 308 and $2 500 per week ($120 000 and $130 000 per year), depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience. As a petrophysicist develops their skills, their earning potential will generally increase.  

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Tools and technologies

Petrophysicists use rock samples and electrical measuring equipment, inserted into boreholes, to collect data. This data is then analysed and integrated using computers, often with specialised software. The techniques for analysing and interpreting data are constantly developing, and most petrophysicists will develop new techniques, or modify existing ones, that are best suited to the particular reservoir being examined. When in the field they must follow strict safety guidelines, which includes wearing personal protection equipment at all times. This may include overalls, boots, safety goggles, a hard hat and gloves.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

To become a petrophysicist you usually need to complete a science degree with a major in geology or physics, or a degree in engineering with a major in oil and gas, or petroleum engineering.

Petrophysicists generally have to gain significant practical fieldwork experience in petroleum and/or oil and gas mining.

Most universities in Western Australia offer relevant courses. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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