Oil refinery control room operator


Oil refinery control room operators perform a range of tasks from the control room of an oil refinery. They monitor the processes through electronic representations shown on monitors, dials, and lights. Control room operators make changes to variables and communicate with other departments to make sure processes keep running smoothly and according to established procedures. They take appropriate actions in case of irregularities or emergencies.

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to oil refinery control room operator:

refinery process operator
oil refinery control room operators
monitoring and control technician
petroleum process operator
operations supervisor
refinery process technician
control room technician
process operator

Minimum qualifications

A high school diploma or equivalent is generally the minimum required to work as an oil refinery control room operator.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Oil refinery control room operator is a Skill level 3 occupation.

Oil refinery control room operator career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to oil refinery control room operator.

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Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of oil refinery control room operator. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of oil refinery control room operator with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

mine ventilation engineer
mine health and safety engineer
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Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of oil refinery control room operator.

  • Electronics: The functioning of electronic circuit boards, processors, chips, and computer hardware and software, including programming and applications. Apply this knowledge to ensure electronic equipment runs smoothly.
  • Petroleum: The various facets of oil: its extraction, processing, constituents, uses, environmental issues, etc.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of oil refinery control room operator.

  • Use a computer: Utilise computer equipment or digital devices to facilitate quality control, data management, and communication. Follow instructions given by a computer programme, create computer files or documents.
  • Ensure compliance with safety legislation: Implement safety programmes to comply with national laws and legislation. Ensure that equipment and processes are compliant with safety regulations.
  • Troubleshoot: Identify operating problems, decide what to do about it and report accordingly.
  • Manage emergency procedures: React quickly in case of emergency and set planned emergency procedures in motion.
  • Write production reports: Make up and complete shift schedules and production reports in a timely manner.
  • Monitor equipment: Monitoring equipment implies watching gauges, dials, or display screens to make sure a machine is working.
  • Coordinate remote communications: Direct network and radio communications between different operational units. Receive and transfer further radio or telecom messages or calls. These might include messages from the public, or the emergency services.
  • Conduct inter-shift communication: Communicate relevant information about the conditions in the workplace, progress, events, and potential problems to the workers in the next shift.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of oil refinery control room operator. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Hydrocarbon isomerisation processes: Understand processes used to change the molecular structure of long hydrocarbon molecules to produce higher octane branched molecules.
  • Petroleum coking techniques: Understand processes used to produce petroleum cokes, or pet cokes, from heavy constituents of petroleum.
  • Oil sweetening processes: The techniques used to remove sulphur and mercaptans from hydrocarbon products, such as catalytic hydrodesulphurisation and merox.
  • Hydrocarbon cracking techniques: Understand various techniques used to convert long-chained or heavy oil fractions, such as naptha, into more profitable lighter products. Be aware of processes like hydrocracking, fluid catalytic cracking, and visbreaking.
  • Electricity: Understand the principles of electricity and electrical power circuits, as well as the associated risks.
  • Vacuum distillation processes: Understand the process of distilling a liquid mixture at very low pressure.
  • Mechanics: Theoretical and practical applications of the science studying the action of displacements and forces on physical bodies to the development of machinery and mechanical devices.
  • Alkylation: Understand the process of moving an alkyl group from one molecule to another. This process is used in oil refining to alkylate isobutanes, producing premium blending agents for fuel.
  • Crude oil distillation processes: The processes involved in the distillation of crude oil using a crude oil distillation unit (CDU) or atmospheric distillation unit, which distils the various constituents of crude oil to separate them.

ISCO group and title

3134 – Petroleum and natural gas refining plant operators

  1. Oil refinery control room operator – ESCO
Last updated on January 25, 2023