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Petroleum Plant Operator

Petroleum Plant Operators control/operate petroleum processing or refining units. Some workers may specialise in testing/gauging oil stored in tanks, controlling pumping/manifold systems, or controlling the flow of petroleum into pipelines.

Duties and tasks

  • Collect and test product samples as necessary and calculate test result values
  • Communicate with other workers via radio or phone to check temperatures, close and open values, and operate pumps
  • Maintain equipment and make reports when it is not functioning correctly
  • Make sure that incoming and outgoing products are moving through the proper meters and that these are functioning correctly
  • Operate pumps, open valves, or utilise automated equipment to regulate the flow of oil in and out of tanks and pipelines
  • Plan movement of products to shipping units, storage, or processing

Skills required

  • High-level operation monitoring skills are required
  • Mechanical knowledge of machines and tools
  • No post-secondary education is required for petroleum plant operators
  • On-the-job training is often provided
  • Some knowledge of mathematics is necessary

Working conditions

Petroleum plant operators must sometimes work in rather brightly or dimly lit conditions, and indoor and outdoor work are both common. They are often part of a team and wear gloves and hardhats on a daily basis. Distracting sounds and loud noise levels are a factor for some in this position. Major employers include petroleum extraction companies, oil and gas refineries, chemical manufacturers, and pipeline companies. They are regularly exposes to hazardous equipment/conditions and very hot/cold temperatures. These operators may work a number of different types of shifts, but they usually work full-time.

Professional associations / Industry information

Manufacturing Skills Australia 

The Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association Ltd (APPEA) 

Related jobs and job titles

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  • Mineral Products Plant Technician
  • Petroleum and Gas Process Operator
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  • Polymer Technician
  • Process Plant Equipment Operator
  • Process Technician