What The Job Of A MWD – LWD Engineer Is About

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As the nation needs more energy there are MWD field engineer job openings with major companies like Schlumberger and Halliburton. MWD stands for “measure while drilling and LWD for “logging while drilling”. This is a relatively new kind of technology used in horizontal oil and gas drilling. It is being used to drill for natural gas and oil in shale formations like the Eagle Ford shale and Marcellus shale.   The use of MWD equipment and horizontal drilling methods have made possible the discovery of trillions of cubic feet of natural gas in the U.S.  There is now over 100 years supply here, thanks in part to this technology. MWD field engineer jobs involve running complex equipment that is placed down-hole, along with a device called a mud motor, near the drill bit. MWD equipment consists of  downhole electronics that read things such as inclination (using accelerometers) and azimuth (using magnetometers). LWD or logging while drilling equipment does this in addition to reading things such as gamma rays and resistivity while the well is being drilled. All of this equipment allows oil and gas companies to monitor what is happening as they drill through layers of earth in real time, as opposed to having to bring all of the drilling assembly and pipe out of the hole to run wireline logging tools in the hole.

Equipment Used In The Job Of A MWD – LWD Field Engineer

MWD equipment consists of probes such as the one below, which are placed in non magnetic lengths of drill pipe or “nonmag drill collars”. Non ferrous metal must be used so the magnetometers or electronic compass devices can read the earth’s magnetic field.  A MWD field engineer’s job is not only to monitor the equipment on the surface, but to get the MWD tool ready for deployment down-hole and rig up MWD surface system cables and sensors.  He or she is responsible for as much as a half million dollars or more of equipment on the well location and must constantly monitor things like the use of LCM  (lost circulation material-pumped down the well bore), vibration, etc, which may affect the tool down-hole. Signals from the MWD – LWD tool are sent to the surface either sent via radio frequency (EM tools) or through positive or negative pressure pulses in the stream of pressurized drilling fluid that is always circulating when drilling is taking place.  Part of an LWD field engineer’s job may be to create a real time log of the well, using gamma ray and other information from the downhole tool to let the oil company geologists know what kind of rock formations they are drilling through. In a horizontal shale oil or gas well this information is used to keep the drill bit “in the pay zone”, rather than in unproductive rocks above or below the target.

MWD and LWD Field Engineer Jobs, How To Get One

Companies such as Schlumberger, Halliburton, Baker Hughes and others hire MWD and LWD field engineers out of college engineering programs. Electrical, mechanical and petroluem engineers are considered, as are those with science degrees such as geology.  Some companies will train non-college graduates who already have oilfield experience plus technical aptitude.

MWD – LWD Field Engineer Salary

A “broke out hand” or employee that can work his shift (called a tour), without assistance, can make well over $300 a day. Some LWD field engineer jobs pay over $600 a day, plus per-diem, monthly salary and a vehicle allowance. Salaries for MWD engineers vary from company to company. The oil and gas industry is highly cyclical and when things are busy an employee may be working (and away from home) for up to several months at a time. Being away from home 25 or more days a month is not uncommon.

The Pros and Cons Of The Job Of A MWD Field Engineer

For many younger “tech savvy” employees just out of college, the adjustment from college to the rough and tumble world of the oilfield can be difficult. Being gone for much of the year, away from friends, family and loved ones can also be difficult.  A typical workday is at least 12 hours long, usually much more. On occasion MWD field engineers may go days without more than a few hours sleep, especially when drilling is fast or problems are occurring. The job requires a “can do” attitude and a willingness to put much of what we think of as ordinary life on hold and be “on call”, ready to go almost anywhere in the world your  company sends you at a moment’s notice. Also, it is a high pressure industry with millions of dollars on the line. Employees must perform 100% or be sent packing by the “company man” or person in charge of the well on location.  Still, for those willing to sacrifice it is a good way to earn a lot of money while young.  If you are interested in this job, consider reading books such as “A Primer Of Oilwell Drilling” to prepare and articles such as “Kinds Of Oilfield Jobs” to learn more about what goes on in the oil industry.

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