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Details for Petroleum Pump System Operators, Refinery Operators, and Gaugers


Control the operation of petroleum refining or processing units. May specialize in controlling manifold and pumping systems, gauging or testing oil in storage tanks, or regulating the flow of oil into pipelines.


  • Calculate test result values, using standard formulas.
  • Collect product samples by turning bleeder valves, or by lowering containers into tanks to obtain oil samples.
  • Control or operate manifold and pumping systems to circulate liquids through a petroleum refinery.
  • Monitor process indicators, instruments, gauges, and meters in order to detect and report any possible problems.
  • Operate control panels to coordinate and regulate process variables such as temperature and pressure, and to direct product flow rate, according to process schedules.
  • Perform tests to check the qualities and grades of products, such as assessing levels of bottom sediment, water, and foreign materials in oil samples, using centrifugal testers.
  • Plan movement of products through lines to processing, storage, and shipping units, utilizing knowledge of system interconnections and capacities.
  • Read and analyze specifications, schedules, logs, test results, and laboratory recommendations to determine how to set equipment controls to produce the required qualities and quantities of products.
  • Read automatic gauges at specified intervals to determine the flow rate of oil into or from tanks, and the amount of oil in tanks.
  • Record and compile operating data, instrument readings, documentation, and results of laboratory analyses.
  • Signal other workers by telephone or radio to operate pumps, open and close valves, and check temperatures.
  • Start pumps and open valves or use automated equipment to regulate the flow of oil in pipelines and into and out of tanks.
  • Synchronize activities with other pumphouses to ensure a continuous flow of products and a minimum of contamination between products.
  • Verify that incoming and outgoing products are moving through the correct meters, and that meters are working properly.
  • Clamp seals around valves to secure tanks.
  • Clean interiors of processing units by circulating chemicals and solvents within units.
  • Conduct general housekeeping of units, including wiping up oil spills and performing general cleaning duties.
  • Coordinate shutdowns and major projects.
  • Inspect pipelines, tightening connections and lubricating valves as necessary.
  • Lower thermometers into tanks to obtain temperature readings.
  • Maintain and repair equipment, or report malfunctioning equipment to supervisors so that repairs can be scheduled.
  • Operate auxiliary equipment and control multiple processing units during distilling or treating operations, moving controls that regulate valves, pumps, compressors, and auxiliary equipment.
  • Patrol units to monitor the amount of oil in storage tanks, and to verify that activities and operations are safe, efficient, and in compliance with regulations.
  • Prepare calculations for receipts and deliveries of oil and oil products.


  • Realistic - Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.
  • Conventional - Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.

Education, Training, Experience

  • Education - These occupations usually require a high school diploma.
  • Training - Employees in these occupations need anywhere from a few months to one year of working with experienced employees. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with these occupations.
  • Experience - Some previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is usually needed. For example, a teller would benefit from experience working directly with the public.


  • Mathematics - Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
  • Education and Training - Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
  • Mechanical - Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.


  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Monitoring - Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
  • Operation Monitoring - Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
  • Operation and Control - Controlling operations of equipment or systems.
  • Quality Control Analysis - Conducting tests and inspections of products, services, or processes to evaluate quality or performance.

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