Celebrating the International Day of Women and Girls in Science Qatar’s Female Engineers Take Center Stage in Energy Sector

Showcasing women contributing to Qatar’s scientific fields requires us understanding how crucial their work is for the State’s development. Just imagine our world without energy sources! We would be forced to live without electricity, modern transportation، and communication. Factories, hospitals, and most infrastructure projects would come to a halt, resembling a return to bygone centuries. These reflections highlight the immense significance of the energy sector, encompassing diverse fields, activities, and specializations that shape our present and build our future.In the following lines, we explore the story of a prominent Qatari female engineer who is actively working in one of the most prominent specializations in engineering: Petroleum Engineering. This field merges concepts and principles from disciplines like Chemical Engineering, Geology and Physics, all for the purpose of discovering and extracting hydrocarbon resources, notably crude oil and natural gas.The foundations of this engineering domain began to emerge in the early 19th century. While evidence of petroleum use dates back to ancient times for various purposes, such as lighting, construction, and even medicine, the real inception of the petroleum industry occurred in 1859 in Pennsylvania, USA. Colonel Edwin Drake revolutionized drilling by employing a steam engine, enabling the extraction of oil from deep within the earth and establishing the first commercial oil well in history. This moment marked the end of relying on natural seepages and shallow wells for oil procurement, heralding a new era of energy exploration. Swiftly, the faster and more efficient method of petroleum exploration spread, making energy cheaper and more abundant, forever altering our world. The “black gold” frenzy swept across the globe, elevating the demand for trained professionals in oil exploration and extraction. Consequently, the University of Pittsburgh pioneered the first Petroleum Engineering program in 1915, laying the true foundation for this specialization.

The tasks of a petroleum engineer vary depending on their role within a project, but they often involve designing and managing exploration and drilling operations, as well as ensuring safe and efficient oil and gas extraction. This role also encompasses analyzing geological data, evaluating reservoir size and characteristics, and assessing associated project risks.

A petroleum engineer needs to stay informed about the latest research and technologies that enhance exploration operations and improve well productivity, all while ensuring compliance with local and international regulations governing oil and gas extraction processes, ensuring environmental protection. Collaboration with a multidisciplinary team, including technicians, engineers, contractors, geologists, and drilling experts, is essential in this role.

If you have an affinity for subjects like Mathematics, Sciences, Engineering, Geology, and Physics, then pursuing a career in Petroleum Engineering might be well-suited to you. To embark on this professional journey, obtaining a Bachelor’s degree in Petroleum Engineering and undergoing appropriate training, along with passing any required licensure exams, is essential.

While some may view the future of Petroleum Engineering as uncertain given the global shift toward renewable energy to address climate change, it is not necessarily the case. The world still heavily relies on oil and gas as primary energy sources. The complete transition to renewable energy will likely take decades, keeping demand for petroleum engineers intact as they contribute to discovering new reserves and developing techniques that enhance production while minimizing negative environmental impact. Moreover, the knowledge, skills, and experiences acquired in Petroleum Engineering studies and work can serve as a solid foundation for transitioning to other engineering fields such as Chemical Engineering or Environmental Engineering, or even venturing into the renewable energy sector after gaining the necessary knowledge and training.

Texas A&M University at Qatar, a Qatar Foundation partner University, offers a Bachelor of Science program in Petroleum Engineering. The duration of the study is four years, and it stands as one of the premier undergraduate Petroleum Engineering programs in the United States. Moreover, the program is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission (EAC) of Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) in the United States.

Reem Hussain Al-Abdulla
Head of Production Technology
Oil and Gas Sector

I have always had the desire to become an engineer, and in 2009, my dream came true when I graduated from Texas A&M University at Qatar with a Bachelor’s degree in Petroleum Engineering. Shortly after, I joined the oil and gas sector, determined to succeed, and prove my competence as a woman in a profession traditionally deemed unsuitable for females.

During the initial years, my work demanded visits to oil and gas fields, overseeing exploration and drilling operations, and identifying the best practices for safe and efficient oil and gas extraction, often requiring me to attend regular meetings at sites far from Doha. I embraced these challenges with enthusiasm, always eager to embark on new work experiences to gain expertise. In 2016, I pursued a Master’s degree in Reservoir Geosciences and Engineering from the IFP School at the National Institute for Petroleum and Renewable Energy in France, one of Europe’s distinguished institutions for postgraduate studies in oil and gas fields. Currently, I serve as the Head of Production Technology, responsible for identifying suitable technologies for drilling operations, well development, and production enhancement, all while relying on my expertise to find solutions for any project challenges.

Words cannot adequately express the gratitude I owe to my family for their support in my achievements. They granted me the freedom to choose my specialization and continuously encouraged my academic and professional journey, celebrating every milestone with me.

I advise parents to help their children discover their career passions early on from the preparatory education stage, where students should determine their career interests while considering future job market demands. This does not mean imposing a specific major on them but rather providing multiple options and allowing them to make their own decision before graduating from high school.

What I cherish most about my profession is its dynamic nature. Each project differs from the next, presenting unique challenges and new prospects daily. The work often involves traveling to different sites and searching for solutions to diverse problems, which nurtures creativity. It is truly exciting! I also find it essential to keep updated of the latest research and emerging ideas in my field, as it evolves continuously. I also take immense pride and joy in knowing that every achievement in my career contributes to the development of Qatar’s oil and gas sector and supports its economy.

To pursue a successful career in any field, one must start preparing themselves from the preparatory or at least the high school stage, exploring their skills and developing their capabilities. Time management, commitment, and diligence are three key skills for anyone aspiring to achieve professional success. Dedicate time to studying, completing assignments, and projects, and learn to adhere to and strive for success.

I encourage students to engage in engineering fields and consider Petroleum Engineering as a specialization. Engineering is a wonderful field with a promising future. Some might believe that the job market in Qatar may not require more Petroleum Engineers in the future due to the global shift toward renewable energy. However, oil and gas remain essential sources in Qatar’s economy, and there will always be demand for Petroleum Engineers.

Some young ladies may fear venturing into engineering fields due to misconceptions, such as the notion that they are difficult or unsuitable for females. However, the landscape has changed drastically, and the challenges we faced 15 years ago, both during studies and in the workplace, have largely been surmounted. I firmly believe that we have paved the way for future generations, and through organizations like the “Qatari Women Engineers Association” (QWEA), of which I am honored to be a member and co-founder, we strive to clarify this for female students and present them with positive role models and success stories.