PROVIDING more than half of the world’s energy, oil and gas continues to be the most important energy source of the 21st century, making petroleum geoscientists routinely sought-after by employers around the world.
“If you’re someone who dreams of exploration and is keen to play a role in the discovery and development of the earth’s natural resources to meet energy demands that power economic growth and ensure societal wellbeing, then petroleum geoscience is a career of choice,” said Geoscience Department chair at Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS (UTP) Dr Khairul Arifin Mohd Noh.
Khairul added that the work of a petroleum geoscientist can be compared to that of a detective.
“It’s a field of science that specialises in exploring the entire petroleum system and earth’s resources from the origin, generation, migration and accumulation to the preservation, exploration and exploitation.
“So, it is an ideal field of study for those with an interest in venturing into unexplored fields and love a challenge.”
Even within the oil and gas sector, he said, opportunities are not limited to exploration.
“Petroleum geoscientists are employed in oil services companies to undertake mapping and big data analytics and serving the entire oil and gas spectrum to make that exploration possible.
“Graduates also have careers as geologists, geophysicists, geochemists and they are employed in diverse industries from mining and quarry to the construction sector,” he mentioned, adding that as one of the critical occupations listed by the Ministry of Human Resources there will always be a need for petroleum geoscientists.
Unique in South-East Asia
The only one of its kind in the region, UTP’s undergraduate Petroleum Geoscience programme is packed with active learning, exciting adventures and outdoor activities, industrial interactions and exposure to cutting edge technology.
The programme is also in the Top 50 2021 QS World Rankings by Subject for Mineral and Mining Engineering.
Besides conventional postgraduate studies, the uniqueness of offering geoscience programmes at UTP is further enhanced by the launch of a new programme at the postgraduate level.
The Master of Science in Petroleum Geoscience programme by coursework is now also being offered via Open and Distance Learning mode.
As Malaysia’s top private university, the teaching and learning of petroleum geoscience is based on up-to-date, comprehensive and advanced curriculum recognised and monitored by accreditation agencies, professional bodies, academics and industrial experts.
“Our courses are delivered by local and international academic staff from various geoscience specialisations including geology, geophysics, geochemistry, exploration as well as production specialists,” Khairul explained.
“Our teaching staff are registered with the Board of Geologists, Board of Technologists and even include Chartered Engineers and the Fellowship of the Geological Society of London.
“Delivery of the course content is through the most recent teaching and learning methods and technology; with an emphasis on active learning through the deployment of IR4.0 education tools such as blended learning,” he stated.
While classroom learning is focused on the concepts and fundamentals, it is outside the classroom that students gain a deeper appreciation and understanding of the programme.
Through field trips to the Kinta Valley, Cameron Highlands, Langkawi, the East Coast of Peninsula Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak, students get up close to geological formations, gaining valuable hands-on knowledge and fieldwork experience.
Activities include inspecting and mapping geological features and the application of surface and subsurface imaging technology.
The geological rock garden currently under construction at UTP, which spans 44,450 sq m covering more than a 1km pathway and furnished with prehistoric landscape rock boulders, actual size dinosaur models, fossils and digital library, is also expected to further enhance students’ appreciation of the course content, as well as a unique platform for knowledge transfer to the public.
Learning activity is supported by global industry-leading software, high-performance computing, big data and other analytical methods.
These ensure that by the time students graduate they will be equipped with a strong digital and numeracy competency.
The university is also equipped with state-of-the-art facilities, including a recently completed lab equipped with cutting edge physical and digital facilities including an integrated lab comprising sub-labs such as organic and inorganic geochemistry labs, earth materials lab, as well as specialised lab such as microscope lab, rock physics lab and cartographic lab for digital mapping and drone.
“Some of the equipment at the labs are also unique to UTP, for example the Autolab, which allows us to measure core samples at reservoir conditions, simulating that sample in the actual position in the subsurface,” Khairul added.
“We also have equipment that encompass all the geophysical survey methods such as gravity, magnetic, electromagnetic, geo-electrical, active and passive seismic, and also wireline logging.
Challenging Work Environment
“This comprehensive teaching and learning infrastructure produces well-rounded graduates who are technically proficient and able to adapt to any challenging work environment,” he elaborated.
The programme is also home to three international student chapters namely the Society of Exploration Geophysicists, American Association of Petroleum Geologists, and the European Association of Geoscientists and Engineers.
“These active student chapters offer a platform for students to interact at the global level and to be actively engaged for future professional development,” he adds.
UTP has been the top-ranking private university in Malaysia according to the Times Higher Education World University Ranking 2022.
It also has a high ratio of international community among the staff and students, offering students a unique global intellectual and cultural experience.
For more on UTP’s petroleum geoscience programme, visit www.utp.edu.my