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Global oil and gas workforce survey

LNG Industry,

The global oil and gas industry is experiencing a resurgence of activity, both employers and employees face a plethora of challenges, according to a report from and its partner Air Energi.

The survey focused on employment and salary trends in the energy sector throughout 2012 and the resulting report is entitled ‘The Global Oil & Gas Workforce Survey: Expectations for hires and pay rates in the oil and gas industry H2 2012.’ The report addresses the issues affecting the oil and gas industry and what they mean for the second half of 2012.

The details

The survey found that operators and contractors have a largely positive outlook about the numerous, major projects underway or planned worldwide. Yet, the research highlighted much concern over access to those with the necessary skills, a shortage of specific disciplines and pressure caused by local content regulations.

More than 170 000 industry professionals were invited to participate from over 50 countries within the seven major oil and gas producing regions.


Mark Guest, Managing Director of said, ‘despite significant economic challenges facing the global energy industry, the survey signals a positive outlook for the sector with both mature and developing producing regions providing good reasons for continuing confidence and future optimism.

‘Local content regulations, where foreign operators are required to prove they have made every effort to recruit from local sources and to use indigenous business channels, are however proving particularly challenging in a number of regions including Africa, the Americas and parts of Australasia.

‘Internationally, operators are embarking on a large number of major investments, benefitting greatly from technological advancements. Yet major challenges remain with access to skilled labour a pivotal concern, combined with a global shortage of those which the necessary experience to help companies fully realise the potential of these opportunities.’


The results of the survey have shown that West Africa has experience hugh growth, creating a significant demand for subsea engineering specialists which are already in short supply globally. This is an issue that has been compounded within the region by the expatriation of foreign workers required by local content regulations. These positions are at the moment being filled by locals with on the job training, as and when they become available. Despite the many challenges, including personal safety and the high cost of living, the average rates in Africa have somewhat decreased, largely owing to the steady increase in local content within the industry.


Following unsettled times massive investment in the US upstream sector is now occurring. Skills shortages are however still palpable, though they are being felt less acutely. This is mainly due to Houston which has long been the epicentre of talent for the oil and gas industry. Rates of pay remain competitive in North America which helps draw available talent.

Asia Pacific

Offshore investments in the region are now 40% higher than in the North Sea. The high demand for engineering and technical expertise is therefore, of course, on going. Refining, chemical and power processing is growing at an unprecedented rate and APAC has experienced the biggest jump in salaries.


Due to the increase in multi million dollar megaprojects, the region is experiencing significant labour shortages resulting in cost overruns. There are at the moment many question marks hovering over how Australia will continue to secure investments for these projects. Australia is however lucky enough to be one of the most sought after destinations for expats seeing a relocation, both in terms of lifestyle and technically challenging experience.


The Caspian region is reported to be the next big pre salt contender next to West Africa and Brazil, however, there are five countries disputing claims over the region.


The North Sea basins may not be attracting as much investment but they are still highly active. The labour shortage is being exacerbated in the region due to the age of the projects compared to the vast majority of the world’s upstream projects.

Middle East

Iraq and Saudi Arabia are currently the driving forces in the region in terms of total investment and spending, particularly in drilling activities. The region has some of the lowest start up and operational costs and the large numbers of expats on contract here typically enjoy solid remuneration packages, longer contracts and a good quality of life.

Comments continued

Ian Langley, Group Executive Chairman for Air Energi said, ‘the global flow of labour is a highly complex equation that has historically been answered through just in time solutions, largely dictated by the price of oil. Operators are taking a global approach to hiring practices, while proactively recruiting or reassigning talent as it becomes available.

‘Many have stated the importance of looking to the young stream of professionals entering the industry, and the need to provide young graduates with internships and other opportunities. Field experience and a succession of short term global assignments have also been observed as successful methods. Fast tracking may help, but there are no shortcuts to hands on experience.’

Adapted from press release by Claira Lloyd.

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