stduent profiles

MSc Petroleum Geoscience

Rishi Dorai (2011-2012)

MSc Petroleum Geoscience, Imperial College London

Rishi DoraiMy name is Rishi Dorai and I had the privilege of doing my MSc at Imperial College in the 2011/12 academic year, following completion of my BSc in Petroleum Geology at Royal Holloway, University of London.

longside my studies and prior to starting my Masters, I managed to get myself a few exposures to industry along the way, dating back to a period with BG Group in Cairo during my A Levels. I then spent almost three years alongside my undergraduate studies working part time with Petrenel, a petroleum consultancy based in Ascot.

I was very fortunate to have a received scholarship for the MSc programme here at Imperial, sponsored by Shell. I completed my MSc in September 2012 and have since joined the BP graduate programme, working as a Geologist.

My current rotation, based in Sunbury in the United Kingdom, involves working on the world’s second largest oilfield by production – the supergiant Rumaila field in Iraq. It is a truly impressive field consisting of several world-class clastic and carbonate reservoirs, together producing in excess of the total daily production of the entire UK and Norwegian North Sea. My present role primarily revolves around the areas of high resolution reservoir modelling and GDE mapping, of the Upper Shale reservoir as well as an oversight of the Rumaila Image Log project.

The MSc programme in Petroleum Geoscience represents the ultimate destination for graduate geologists, prior to embarking upon a career in the oil and gas industry. As a specially tailored course, it offers a seamless transition between the foundations set by an undergraduate degree and the demanding, fiercely competitive and highly technical nature of professional employment.

Within the United Kingdom, there are arguably up to four well-reputed MSc Petroleum Geoscience programmes on offer to the graduates of today. However, the programme offered by Imperial College London arguably carries with it the strongest reputation and prestige of them all.

To every prospective applicant, Imperial College is a world leading institution with an unparalleled standing in several fields and disciplines. The Earth Science and Engineering department at the college boasts close ties to industry, participates regularly at the forefront of scientific research and is supported by academic staff who lead their respective fields of research. All of these factors combine to great effect in the formation of the MSc Petroleum Geoscience course.

The programme is a bespoke and constantly evolving creation, formed through close alliance and consultation with industry. This alliance yields several benefits ranging from sponsorship of scholarships, impact on the topics and content explored during the year, as well as the manner in which it is delivered to students. A large proportion of the formal teaching utilises the aid of guest lecturers from industry.

During the 2011/12 academic year, guest lecturers included senior professionals from BP, Shell, ExxonMobil, BG Group, RPS Energy, IKON Geoscience and Schlumberger. The diversity in teaching styles and content adds immense value whilst also bringing variety and regular opportunities to network with potential future employers.

The best asset of the MSc Petroleum Geoscience course at Imperial College is its parallel running alongside similar programmes in Petroleum Engineering and Petroleum Geophysics. It is this distinction that keeps it considerably more appealing to prospective graduates. There is a common misconception that geologists only do geology. The beauty of the petroleum business is its linking of several technical disciplines in order to achieve a common purpose. The earlier that graduates are able to learn and appreciate this, the greater the value of what they take away from the course.

By running these three programmes in parallel, students are offered a fantastic platform for cross discipline interaction, learning and development. There are a number of shared lectures and group projects during the year which encourage and stimulate this effectively. The Wytch Farm project culminates the first term and is a great example of such an experience.

As a field development project, it brings together a small group of geoscientists, geophysicists and engineers in a manner identical to how such a task would be approached by any company working on a similar asset. These three weeks are potentially the most intensive pa rt of the year, however perhaps the most beneficial component of an Imperial College graduate’s portfolio of experiences.

Course content follows the entire scope of the upstream petroleum workflow from exploration to production. This is delivered to great effect by the passionate and experienced blend of academic and external lecturers. Consisting of several seasoned professionals, the staff within the department are outstanding teachers and mentors, engaging with students both in the classroom and in the field. They share a wealth of experience and knowledge in a manner that exudes enthusiasm and a love for what they do. All staff, both internal and external, are approachable and dependable allies during and beyond a student’s year at the college.

Beyond formal learning and group projects, the MSc experience is further enhanced by a number of spectacular fieldtrips. Fieldwork is a critical area of learning and development for every geologist. During the year at Imperial College, MSc students are provided with opportunities to witness field examples of a wide range of geological scenarios and areas covered by the formal teaching.

The year culminates with a three month independent project. This period provides students with an opportunity to draw on their experiences during the year and apply it on a project, most often in conjunction with an oil company. My MSc project, undertaken with BP, consisted of a geologically constrained volumetric assessment of a secondary reservoir of the Rumaila field in Iraq. It is perhaps in these three months that students find themselves develop the most, having gained the confidence that they have been armed with a tremendous arsenal of capability earlier during the year.

On the whole and from every angle, the Imperial College MSc in Petroleum Geoscience is a fantastic programme. It is the most comprehensive and intensive period of learning that any geologist is likely to experience in their career. It is a character building journey along which you will build lifelong friendships. You will end your year here, ready to start your career in confidence and able to get on with a job from day one.

The success of the programme is underpinned by its support from industry and the diversity in its teaching. Most of all however, this success is sustained by its constant evolution to ensure it remains the flagship programme on offer to the graduates of tomorrow.


Gemma Jones (2010-2011)

MSc Petroleum Geoscience, Imperial College London

After finishing my undergraduate degree at Cambridge University I knew I wanted a career in Geology, but I was unsure on what area of Geology I wanted to work in. I arranged a meeting with the Deputy Chief Geologist at BG Group through a personal contact, to discuss what was involved in being a Petroleum Geologist in the Energy Industry. I was really excited by what I heard, he likened working in Petroleum Geology to detective work; using a variety of data to work out where to drill for oil and gas and how to maximise production.

I applied to the Petroleum Geoscience course and was offered a position, fully funded by BP. The course was everything I expected it to be and more. The people, both the teaching staff and my fellow students, were enthusiastic and highly driven and the course was challenging but relevant and practical.

During the first term we were regularly taught alongside, the Petroleum Geophysicists and the Petroleum Engineers which gave me an appreciation of the work they do. Working alongside each other during the Wytch Farm project at the end of the first term really helped us all understand how our disciplines complimented each other and it was a great way to experience the rewards, and problems, that arise from working in multi-disciplined teams.

The course covers all types of Geology relevant to the Petroleum Industry, taught by experts in each field, and ranging from broad topics like Production and Development Geology to more specialist skills such as Petrophysical Log Interpretation and Seismic Analysis.

I loved the fact that the course is taught in a varied and interesting way, with regular fieldtrips to outcrops used on industry-lead trips; from short trips to locations such as Kilve for the fabulous structural exposures to the three-week long trip exploring the world-renowned outcrops in Utah and West Texas. I had a wonderful time on these fieldtrips and also the three months I spent working with an oil company in Jakarta, Indonesia for my final project, where I was able to apply the skills which I had learnt to solve real problems.

I was inspired to apply for a PhD after attending the AAPG (American Association of Petroleum Geologists) conference in New Orleans during the MSc Petroleum Geosciences fieldtrip to America. My PhD is supervised by Dr. Lidia Lonergan, the supervisor of my MSc project, and uses a high-resolution 3D seismic dataset to look at the interaction between deepwater sedimentary systems and salt tectonics, offshore Angola. It is partly sponsored by BP, which has given me the opportunity to work in their offices at Sunbury.

This has been a fantastic experience and one which I have been able to understand, and make the most of, because of the excellent and thorough teaching I received on the MSc Petroleum Geoscience course. I have recently been offered a job with BP and will start on their Graduate Programme later this year. I am certain that none of this would have been possible without the exceptional teaching and enthusiasm imparted to me during my time on the MSc Petroleum Geoscience course at Imperial College.

MSc Petroleum Engineering

Despoina Mylonaki (2011-2012)
MSc Petroleum Engineering 2011/2012

Despoina MylonakiCurrent Employer: Shell UK Ltd.

I was studying Mineral Resources Engineering at the Technical University of Crete in Greece when I first attended a Reservoir Engineering course. The exciting and challenging aspects of this subject soon made me realise that this was the career path I wanted to follow.

Therefore, after finishing my Bachelor degree I decided to apply for an MSc in Petroleum Engineering. The reputation, the international recognition, the academic specialists, and the diversity of its students made Imperial College my first and only choice.

During my studies, I had the opportunity to learn from distinguished professors in Petroleum Engineering and use the latest software available in the petroleum industry. I developed valuable engineering skills and created a worldwide network of friends and colleagues.

In my opinion what distinguishes Imperial College from other universities is its academic and professional quality. Imperial has formed valuable connections and partnerships with oil and gas companies around the world, offering its students the opportunity of a successful career.

After completion of my MSc, I joined Shell UK Ltd working as a Reservoir Engineer in a North Sea field. My experience from Imperial College has proven to be really valuable in my every day job, especially when dealing with team projects and time pressure.

The knowledge I gained on different subsurface subjects during my MSc studies, has helped me significantly to integrate with colleagues from different disciplines.

If you are looking for a strongly industry-focused MSc in Petroleum Engineering, then Imperial College is the right place to study.


Marianna Sinakova (2012-2013)
MSc Petroleum Engineering

Marianna SinakovaCurrent Employer: BP, London

My journey into the oil and gas industry began in 2008 when I was accepted to study for a Bachelor degree in Petroleum Engineering at the University of Manchester. I always knew that I wanted to have a career in science and engineering, and I was attracted to this degree subject through attending the university open day. I realized that there is a real need for petroleum / reservoir engineers in the global market place, and that the career prospects were exciting. And so my journey began…

After finishing my undergraduate degree, I chose to come to Imperial College for a number of reasons: firstly, it’s reputation worldwide as a whole, and specifically as a leading university in petroleum engineering; secondly, to study alongside some of the brightest students and  to expand my professional network; thirdly, to learn from some of  the  world’s leading specialists and distinguished lecturers ; and finally to develop my time-management and individual problem solving skills.

Having graduated from the course I can say that the course fully prepared me for the challenges of professional life and I owe my success to the intense year I had at Imperial College.

Since completing my Msc I joined BP in London as a reservoir engineer. From early on in my role I was given a chance to work on important projects for the business and had a chance to apply what I had learned at university.

I can say that having completed this course helped me to contribute to the business needs of my company from day one. Many of my classmates are now working all over the world, and we still keep in touch and meet whenever our paths cross in the same city. I still visit the campus occasionally through my role as an SPE Young Professionals London committee member, and I am always full of fond memories when I am there.

I would strongly encourage students who want to expand their career opportunities and to develop industry relevant skills to consider coming to Imperial College. The year that you spend here would be one of the best periods of your life. 


Ayana Breheret (2009-2010)
MSc Petroleum Engineering

Ayana BreheretI was studying for a Master degree from a French Ecole d’Ingenieurs, the Ecole Nationale Superieure de Geologie, when I applied for a double degree with the MSc Petroleum Engineering at Imperial College.

Oil and gas exploration today requires a high level of integration, and this MSc was the perfect choice to make: from the first day on, I was trained not only to be an engineer, but also to interact with all kinds of specialists, from geoscientists to economists.

During my studies, I not only developed a new theoretical understanding, but how to be proficient in the application of this knowledge; owing to the group and personal projects I undertook.

In the unique environment of Imperial College (software access, library, working but still a cozy atmosphere…), among international classmates of different backgrounds and past experiences, helped by passionate and communicative professors and industry specialists, I learnt both theory and practical applications.

The close ties between MSc Petroleum Engineering and industry, enhanced by affiliations to professional associations such as the Society of Petroleum Engineers, allowed me to immerse myself into the professional environment, and to feel confident that I would be able to tackle any challenge in my future job.

Upon graduation in 2010 I joined the consultancy group Fugro Robertson Ltd as a Reservoir Engineer. The skills that I developed during MSc Petroleum Engineering have proved invaluable on the projects I have worked on, from generating production profiles to defining field development plans. And it is always a pleasure to meet my former classmates knowing that we shared a great time at Imperial, but that our futures are brighter still.


Ayodele O. Sanwoolu (2006-2007)
MSc Petroleum Engineering

Ayodele O. SanwooluCurrent Employer: Schlumberger Information Solutions (SIS), Kuwait

Current Position: Senior Reservoir Engineer

“Petroleum Reservoir Engineering deals with the problem of maximizing producing rate and ultimate recovery of oil and gas reservoirs” – H.C. Slider, Worldwide Practical Reservoir Engineering Methods

As a modern Reservoir Engineer, in this computer age, at no other time have we had so many resources at our disposal to study and analyze the hydrocarbon bearing reservoirs.

We are now able to take uncertainties into consideration - and propagate these uncertainties from the development of the structural model, through the building of the geological model and the eventual simulation of the different recovery scenarios from the reservoir.

The complexity and labour intensiveness of some of the processes involved in model building and simulation necessitates the development of specialist software to assist the engineer in making the necessary decisions.

While the software exists to help the engineer, it is of utmost importance that the reservoir engineer understands the fundamentals of the physics governing the reservoir and the fluids within the reservoir, as this is the only way in which he/she can make informed decisions on which tools to use and to correctly evaluate results obtained from the tool in a process, putting the right weight on it, based on the data and assumptions involved in the decision process.

I work as a reservoir engineer with Schlumberger Information Solutions (SIS) and my daily activities involve training and supporting reservoir engineers in the use of some of the industry’s reservoir engineering software, some of which are ECLIPSE, the flow simulation software and Petrel Reservoir Engineering (the Reservoir Engineering component of Petrel, a platform for creating geophysical and geological models and carrying it on through to simulation).

I also work with clients on simulation projects, an example being a project involving the simulation of a waterflood project designed to provide pressure support for one of the reservoirs of the Burgan field in Kuwait.

My time in Imperial College provided me with the necessary background in Petroleum and Reservoir Engineering. The group project really provided me with a lot of skills that I still draw on today in my daily activities, things I did not realize I was learning an example of which is the holistic approach to reservoir studies.

I’ll encourage all the students that have the opportunity to be part of the M.Sc. Program to get fully involved. Learn all you can and ask all the questions you can. It is very important to learn the fundamentals and you have around you excellent sources of information and knowledge.


Ran Qi
MSc Petroleum Engineering

Ran QiAfter finishing my undergraduate study at the University of Petroleum in Beijing, China, I sought to enhance my understanding of petroleum processes by continuing with a MSc degree in petroleum engineering at Imperial College London.

During the masters program, along with a deeper understanding of the fundamentals of general reservoir development strategies, I developed a keen interest in the storage of carbon dioxide in mature oil fields.

This occurred after listening to a very engaging lecture from my then future PhD supervisor Martin Blunt where he described the dual benefits which could arise when carbon dioxide is injected into a mature oil field. It was there he showed how additional oil recovery could be obtained from these fields which may be close to abandonment while redu cing carbon emissions. 

I thus embarked on the research of the topic “Simulation of geological carbon dioxide storage” under the supervision of Professor Martin Blunt and Dr. Tara LaForce.  During my PhD study, I had the opportunity to modify a streamline simulator and used it to study carbon storage in several field cases.

After completing my PhD in 2008 I joined Chevron’s Energy Technology Company as reservoir simulation engineer in Aberdeen.  There I worked on various simulation projects which included history matching mature fields, simulating Enhanced Oil Recovery processes and using experimental design to model green field developments for Chevron’s different business units.

In early 2010 I moved over to Chevron Upstream Europe, the operational arm of Chevron in the UK, where I took a development assignment as an EOR simulation engineer in the Captain Field in North Sea, which is currently testing chemical enhanced oil recovery methods.  

Petroleum engineering is a very unique subject, which combines the theories of physics, mathematics, chemistry and engineering to obtain ways to efficiently and effectively recover oil from the subsurface.

On a daily basis I am called upon to use the basics I learnt in my MSc and PhD studies to validate the results of numerical simulation and modeling packages to ensure that they give reasonable answers and do not become black boxes whose answers are never questioned. I am also called upon to use these basics for business decisions which require us to determine how likely various strategies are to provide sufficient economic recovery.

One of my favourite parts of working as a petroleum engineer is the knowledge that I am contributing to the safe and reliable production of an essential energy source in a manner which has as little impact to the environment as possible. 

My best and worst moments are kind of related. I enjoyed every moment during my PhD study at Imperial College as I was working with the greatest supervisors and colleagues, so the best moments is of course when I graduated at Royal Albert Hall with Imperial College London’s purple PhD robe. The worst moment is to sadly leave London, leave my student life at Imperial College.