Petroleum Production Technology

Delivery method: On campus, online
Program begins: on campus (Fall, Spring) online (every three to five weeks)
Select courses available online only

Program Description

The Petroleum Production Technology program at BSC provides a broad background in equipment operation and maintenance used in the oil and gas industry. Students study the connection between petroleum geology, exploration, drilling, production, transportation and processing. They learn about safety, mechanical and electrical fundamentals, instrumentation and control,  print reading, troubleshooting and communications, and the chemical technology needed to work in various petroleum operations. Instruction includes the nature of gas and oil, where it forms, mineral rights leasing and contracts, mechanics and techniques of drilling, testing and well completion, artificial lift, surface equipment, separation, storage and measurement.

Classes begin every three to five weeks and require some on campus labs or job shadowing at an approved facility. PROD courses are offered online only.


A background in math and chemistry and knowledge of drafting, mechanics or instrumentation is beneficial.

Prospective students should be prepared for the physical demands of entry-level technician positions. Typical industry requirements include passing a physical exam, which may entail lifting 50+ pounds, climbing ladders, and working in confined spaces or heights. Job applicants also may be required to pass a drug screen and eye exam, including the ability to distinguish between colors accurately.

Program Requirements

Students who complete the curriculum requirements receive a Program Certificate or Associate in Applied Science degree.

Required program entrance scores:

  • ACCUPLACER Math – 41 (elementary algebra)
  • ACT Math – 16
  • COMPASS Math – 34 (pre-algebra)

Career Opportunities

Working in the petroleum industry provides a high paying career and exciting opportunities for employment throughout the world. The need for trained operators and technicians continues to increase as oil and gas production volumes and reserve estimates increase in North Dakota’s Bakken region and other areas where petroleum is produced.

Additional Information

Credits from this program may be applied to BSC’s Bachelor of Applied Science degree (BAS) in Energy Management, offered entirely online. The BAS is designed for individuals interested in supervisory and management positions in the energy industry. The BAS builds on the foundation laid in an AAS degree and includes general education classes, core management courses, and energy specific management courses.

BSC’s National Energy Center of Excellence was designated as the National Power Plant Operations Technology and Education Center by U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel W. Bodman in 2007. This official designation recognizes BSC as the premier national center of education and training for operators and technicians in the energy industry.


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ENRT 101. Introduction to Energy Technology

Credits: 4
An introduction to the expanding energy industry. Students will learn about a variety of energy facilities from traditional to renewable, including but not limited to fossil fuel power plants, petroleum refineries, ethanol and biodiesel facilities, gasification plants, wind farms, geothermal and hydro power production facilities, natural gas processing facilities, petroleum production, water and wastewater treatment and others. The role of the technician in these facilities will be a focus, as will be the expectations and culture of the industry.

ENRT 103. Applied Math

Credits: 3
Typically Offered: FASPSU
This course will teach basic math skills and apply them to energy industry situations. Students will learn the metric system, basic volume and area calculations as well as algebra and trigonometry and how they apply to industry specific situations.

ENRT 104. Electrical Fundamentals

Credits: 3
This course covers basic direct current theories and applies those to the electrical system and related equipment. Students will also study basic DC circuit calculations. This course will also cover basic alternating current theories and apply those theories to electrical systems and related equipment. Students will study various methods of producing a voltage. Students will also study essential generator and motor design, construction and operating principles.

ENRT 105. Safety, Health and Environment

Credits: 3
This course covers the personal protective equipment and proper safe work practices and procedures commonly used in the energy industry. Students will also gain a working knowledge of standard safety, health and environmental practices and regulations set by various government entities.

ENRT 107. Mechanical Fundamentals

Credits: 2
Typically Offered: FALL
This course provides an introduction to mechanical concepts commonly found in a plant setting. Topics covered include hand tools, piping, valves, steam traps and strainers. In addition, pumps, compressors, drivers, fans and rotating equipment are covered. Bearings, seals and lubrication are a focus in this course, as well as heat exchanger designs. Plant terminology and operator expectations are covered also.

ENRT 110. Plant Equipment and Systems

Credits: 4
Typically Offered: FALLSPR
This course provides an introduction to equipment used in the power, process and renewable industries. Valves, piping, pumps, compressors, generators, turbines, motors, lubrication systems, heat exchangers, furnaces, boilers, cooling towers, separators, reactors, and distillation columns are covered. The utilization of this equipment within systems will be covered.

ENRT 112. Print Reading

Credits: 3
This course covers schematics, prints, and piping and instrument diagrams used in the energy industry. Students will learn how to read and interpret block and single-line diagrams, which will prepare them for the logic and electrical schematics included in this course.

ENRT 116. Instrumentation and Control

Credits: 4
This course provides a comprehensive study of instrumentation components, control theory, control systems and typical controllers associated with the operation of energy facilities.

ENRT 215. Operations, Troubleshooting & Communications

Credits: 3
Students will gain the knowledge necessary to comprehend overall plant operations and respond to abnormal operating conditions. Students also will participate in root cause analysis exercises while troubleshooting different operating scenarios. This course provides instruction in the different types of troubleshooting techniques, procedures, and methods used to solve process problems. Students will use existing knowledge of equipment, systems and instrumentation to understand the operation of an entire unit in a facility. Students study concepts related to commissioning, normal startup, normal operations, normal shutdown, turnarounds, and abnormal situations, as well as the process technicians individual and team role in performing tasks associated with these concepts within an operating unit.

ENRT 220. Practical Applications

Credits: 2
Students will participate in hands-on lab activities, internships or industry job shadowing to gain entry-level job competencies.

PROD 110. Fundamentals of the Petroleum Industry

Credits: 4
Typically Offered: SPRING
The course provides an overview of petroleum industry operations and how they are interrelated. The course covers petroleum geology, exploration, drilling and production. The course starts with the nature of gas and oil, where we find it, leasing land and contracts, the mechanics and techniques of drilling, testing and completing of a well, surface equipment, seperation, storage, measurement and sales.

PROD 220. Production Equipment

Credits: 4
Typically Offered: FALL
The course is designed to give an overview of basic petroleum industry equipment and how it is utilized in the process. The course will cover wellheads, pumping units, flowlines, 2 and 3 stage separators, heater treaters, stock tanks, central tank batteries, salt-water disposal, vapor recovery units, flaring, pig launchers and receivers and metering. The characteristics, design, operation, and interactions of various pieces of equipment will be addressed.

PROD 230. Well Services

Credits: 3
Typically Offered: FALL
This course will provides a basic overview of well completion, artificial lift, logging and testing, analyzing a well problem, service and workover equipment, fishing, sand cleanout, well stimulation and additional recovery methods. The course covers preparing the well for the workover, equipment used and different types of well servicing and workovers such as pulling rods, pumps, tubing, casing repair, well cleanout and swabbing. Different types of well stimulations used for improved production are discussed. Additional recovery techniques and benefits are covered.

PROD 240. Artificial Lift

Credits: 2
Typically Offered: FALL
The course will provide a basic overview of artificial lift that is used to improve production. The course reviews different types of artificial lift; rod pumps, progressing cavity pumps, gas lift, electrical submersible pumps, and hydraulic pumping systems.

PROD 250. Production Safety, Health & Environment

Credits: 4
Typically Offered: SPRING
This course focuses on safe work practices and environmental issues in the petroleum production industry. Among additional topics, the course covers emergency action plans, driving safety, personal protective equipment, control of hazardous energy, slips trips and falls, excavation/confined space, and common safety practices used in the industry. Health hazards and hazard communication are discussed relating to the petroleum production industry. Environmental regulations and concerns specific to the petroleum production industry such as spill prevention control and countermeasures are addressed.

PROP 235. Hydrocarbon Chemistry

Credits: 3
This course provides a fundamental study of the organic chemistry of hydrocarbons associated with crude oil. This course will also focus on process chemistry, chemistry fundamentals, typical process reactions and process solubility theory.

PROP 239. Gas Processing

Credits: 3
This course provides a comprehensive study of the processing technologies associated with the production of natural gas and other gases and liquids found within natural gas fields. Students study gas laws, molecular structure, process theory, terminology, equipment and the auxiliary systems that support the production and processing of natural gas. The production of synthetic natural gas by means of coal gasification will be covered.