Petroleum Technologist

Petroleum technologists assist in the exploration of and drilling for, oil and gas. They make an important contribution to the manufacturing of fuel, lubricants and other petroleum products.

Petroleum technologists may be involved in the search for new oil wells. This involves geological work and those involved in this field are known as geological petroleum technologists. In the extraction process petroleum technologists do research on the different types of mud used to lubricate drill bits.

Petroleum technologists are also involved in the evaluation of crude oil to determine its specific properties and classification, which will, in turn, determine the refining parameters. During the refining process, laboratory petroleum technologists do testing and evaluation of the various cuts.

Petroleum technologists, who are known as sales technology advisers, lubrication engineers, etc. do quality control and promotion of petroleum products.
The primary function of the petroleum laboratory technologist is quality control or product evaluation, whether in a refinery, a lubricant manufacturing plant or in the field of petroleum product application and use. This work involves various physical and chemical tests and depends upon the nature and application of the product concerned.

Petroleum technologists may specialise in any of the various products obtained from crude oil by refining processes, and these include:

  • liquid petroleum and gas
  • aviation, motor, diesel and furnace fuels
  • kerosene and solvents
  • lubricating oils and greases
  • waxes, bitumen and special products.

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

  • National Senior Certificate meeting degree requirements for a degree course
  • National Senior Certificate meeting diploma requirements for a diploma course
Each institution has its own entry requirements.

What to Study

Degree: A BSc degree with Chemistry as a major subject can be followed at any SA university.

Diploma: The N.Dip. Analytical Chemistry, followed by BTech in Analytical Chemistry / Chemistry / Fuel Technology is offered at VUT, UJ, CPUT, DUT, TUT, NMMU, UNISA

The N.Dip. Chemical Engineering is offered at all the above-mentioned universities of technology as well as CUT. Both the degree and the diploma courses take 3 years to complete full-time.


  • Sasol Chemical Industries (SCI)
  • various oil refining companies
  • Soekor (Southern Oil Exploration Corporation)
  • SABS

Further Information

Petroleum Division
Private Bag X191
Pretoria, 0001
Tel. (012) 428-7911

Getting Started

  • try to obtain vacation or part-time work in an oil processing plant
  • arrange to speak to a petroleum technologist about this type of career

Programmes by Study Institutions

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