Recruitment and Development in the Oil and Gas Industry

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Oil & Gas IQ

The vast sums of money involved in the development of an oil and gas project mean that human resources play a key role in the success of it and the return on investment.

For many industries, the reaction to the economic down turn was to downsize and cut costs. However, history has taught the oil and gas sector that this is simply not an option if it hopes to thrive.


The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) warned in its latest World Oil Outlook that the industry must not implement these measures and fall into the trap it did during the downturn in the 1990s, which has resulted in a shortage of skilled labour in recent years.

Oil and gas companies must invest in new recruits and train staff in emerging roles to increase retention rates and present itself as an attractive industry to talented young people.

"Today, this is extremely important as the industry faces far more competition for talent from the expanding service and knowledge economies, and there is a significant percentage of the current workforce expected to retire in the next 10 years," OPEC said.

Emerging Roles

As the oil and gas industry within Asia continues to grow, regulations are increased and new roles emerge.

Last year, Shell launched the first industry-driven Trainee Safety Advisor Programme in Singapore for engineering construction.

Some 2,000 applications were received for the course, which offered just 87 places in the first round. Shell said that almost all of those involved in the programme were local workers "dispelling the general perception that locals do not want to engage in this kind of work."

Ho Siong Hin, from Singapore's Ministry of Manpower, said: "Such initiatives will enable more people to consider safety as a motivating, challenging and meaningful profession, while helping us to strive towards world-class safety standards."

Over the coming years, 150 extra health and safety professionals will be required in the country's oil / petrochemicals construction industries.

UK-based safety training provider OPITO also agrees with this assessment of the situation and said that it has seen increased interest in health and safety roles as the industry continues to develop.

David Doig, chief executive of OPITO Group, said: "Many markets are not as mature as the UK and therefore the skills offering has to be different."

Investment in Training and International Collaboration

Companies in the Middle East region looking to recruit more locals are now starting at a grassroots level with internships and degree sponsorships.

Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) operates a degree sponsorship scheme for 15 nations each year to enter accredited programmes in reputable international universities, mainly based in the UK and Australia. It also offers five scholarships to the BSc. Program in Applied Geosciences course with The German University of Technology in Oman.

John Malcolm, managing director of PDO, said that in recent years the company has shown what "great people with the right technology can achieve" and highlighted that, as enhanced oil recovery techniques become more widespread, this will increase even further.

"It means one thing: We need highly competent people with advanced technical skills who can conceive, plan and implement and operate these projects," Malcolm said.

Saudi Aramco Services Company (ASC) is also looking overseas to improve the skills base of its workforce and last year signed a 10-year internship deal with United States firm General Electric. Some 109 professionals from the company, including a number in the oil and gas department, are currently on placements with American firms through the scheme.

Abdulwahab Al-Abbas, manager of ASC Industrial Relations, said: "The Aramco Training Services Company internship programme serves one of the key objectives of our organisation, developing a world-class workforce."

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