Entry Senior

Petroleum Geochemist

Photo courtesy of Cenovus Energy

About This Career

Petroleum Geochemists study the origins of petroleum, how it migrates and where it pools or accumulates. They analyze oil, natural gas, sediment, source rock and water to support decisions on exploration activities, drilling and production, as well as on waste disposal, land reclamation and other environmental matters.

They may also conduct research on organic geochemistry (the study of the impacts and processes that organisms have had on the earth) and petroleum geology (the study of origin, occurrence, movement, accumulation and exploration of hydrocarbon fuels), which can involve presenting their findings in technical research reports, journals and presentations.

Education: A post-secondary degree in earth sciences with an emphasis on geochemistry is typically required. A graduate or post-graduate degree may be required for more advanced roles.

Employment: This occupation is found in onshore and offshore environments and is typically employed in the oil sands, exploration and production and oil and gas services sectors of the oil and gas industry.

Example titles: Exploration Geochemist, Research Scientist, Organic Geochemist, Consulting Petroleum Geochemist

Work Activities
Analyzing Data or Information
Inducing changes in the composition of substances by introducing heat, light, energy or chemical catalysts for quantitative or qualitative analysis.
Conducting scientific research regarding the organic geochemistry and petroleum geology of petroleum systems and sedimentary basins.
Analyzing and interpreting geological data using computer software.
Analyzing organic or inorganic compounds to determine the chemical or physical properties, composition, structure, relationships or reactions using chromatography, spectroscopy or spectrophotometry techniques.
Analyzing and interpreting geological, geochemical or geophysical information from sources such as survey data, well logs, bore holes or aerial photos.
Applying Health and Safety Principles
Adhering to safety and environmental rules, policies and procedures
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers or Subordinates
Providing information to supervisors, co-workers and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail or in person.
Documenting/Recording Information
Using geochemical petroleum laboratory resources, geochemical databases and specialty software, such as thermodynamic modeling programs.
Maintaining geochemical databases and tracking historical trends in wells.
Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
Establishing and managing client relationships.
Estimating the Quantifiable Characteristics of Products, Events or Information
Identifying source rocks and determining the amount, type and maturation level of the organic matter.
Evaluating Information
Providing source rock, maturity, oil characterization and migration modeling for reservoir geochemical studies to determine sources of reservoir fluids.
Getting Information
Conducting quality control tests.
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events
Assessing possible oil or gas migration pathways.
Correlating petroleum compounds found in reservoirs, leaks and surface seeps to find new pools of petroleum.
Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others
Interpreting all manner of geochemical data, such as gas chromatography, stable isotopes, biomarkers, petroleum composition, vitrinite and other reflectance, and basin modeling.
Processing Information
Synthesizing findings from technical research.
Compiling test information to determine process and equipment operating efficiencies or to diagnose malfunctions.
Thinking Creatively
Planning and conducting analytical studies of core samples, drill cuttings and rock samples to identify chemical, mineral, hydrocarbon and biological composition and to assess depositional environments and geological age.
Developing models and applied software for the analysis and interpretation of data.
Complex Problem Solving
Attention to Detail
Quality Control Analysis
Computer use
Career Path
  • Geoscientist-in-Training (G.I.T.) designation is usually the first step in becoming a professional geoscientist (P.Geo.)
  • Geoscientist Manager
  • Junior Geoscientist
  • Research Geoscientist
  • Senior Geoscientist
  • Technical Specialist
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Working Conditions
  • Field 2
    Field Visits
  • Physical
    Mild Physical Activity
  • Office
    Office Based
  • Relocation
Similar Jobs In Other Industries
Careers also exist in the following industries:
  • Educational services
  • Petroleum and coal product manufacturing
  • Professional, scientific and technical services
  • Public administration, including regulatory
Job Details

Job Category

Geosciences Professionals



Oil and gas services

Oil sands



Qualifications + Experience


  • Post-secondary degree


  • Provincial and territorial regulatory bodies issue licences to all professional geoscientists.