Renewed confidence in recruitment for the Oil and Gas sector has been evoked since the barrel price rise from the dramatic drop from $115/barrel in 2014 to less than $30/barrel in early 2016.
The UK offshore oil and gas industry was badly hit and the industry’s workforce shrank from 450,000 in 2014 to 330,000 in 2016. Exploration and development of wells, investment and jobs were all badly hit, however, Oil & Gas UK said in its annual report that “the largest reductions may be behind us”. Some smaller companies in the supply chain, often driven by technological innovation, were increasing their headcount With the recovery of the price of Brent Crude last year, on the way to over $70/barrel in January along with successful efforts to bring production costs down, there are signs of renewed confidence.
In its outlook for the sector last year, trade body Oil & Gas UK said “the upturn in oil price has coincided with signs of confidence returning to the basin” and noted “within two years, the sector has halved its average unit operating costs”.
With BP announcing two new discoveries in the North Sea, Shell approving plans to develop the Penguins field north of Shetland its first North Sea installation in 30 years, and Spirit Energy drilling a new well at the Chiswick field in the southern North Sea to bring around a further 50 billion cubic feet of gas on stream in a £75m investment it seems the E&P market has found some confidence from the barrel price increase.
What does this mean for skills and recruitment?
With projects looking at between 5 & 15 years life cycle the North Sea market offers stability once again however with an ageing workforce and technological innovations the sector may be looking towards graduate & apprentice opportunities to fullfill its staffing needs in mechanical, process/chemical and electrical/control and instrumentation engineering.
Other skills which are likely to be sought after are geologists and geophysicists, and the technical and business functions that support them along with skills in IT and telecommunications with installations being networked and cybersecurity to protect operations from disruption is becoming vitally important.