In case you haven’t heard, the Gulf of Mexico oil and gas industry is on a roll. Another sign of the good times is contained in a recent report from OilCareers.com that shows that the number of staff jobs — as opposed to contract work — offered by employers in the Gulf has increased by almost sixteenfold in the last three years.
Though the numbers are eye-opening, the pattern is nothing new. When the Gulf cycles up, the biggest problem that many owners and operators face is a personnel shortage. What is worth noting is that in 2009 companies were recruiting both staff and contract labor at approximately the same pace. Now, however, companies are looking to fill staff positions at a rate of about 80 percent.
The need for additional “qualified” personnel in the Gulf is most acute in the deepwater sector. On land, the shale and gas industry in North America is also short on workers who are equipped with the skills necessary to support the industry. However, they are all fishing in the same pond, a small body of water that continues to shrink with each generation.
The report goes beyond deckhands and roustabouts, however, noting that the jobs most in demand are for qualified designers, engineers and seismic interpreter/geoscientists. With a robust 94 percent of applications in the U.S. coming from U.S. citizens, fewer of them are interested in going after higher salaries offered by companies in Africa and the Middle East, which means personnel shortages in those geographical areas will worsen.
“Ever-increasing activity and constantly evolving technologies in the Gulf of Mexico and across the wider U.S. is extremely promising, and it has never been more important for oil and gas businesses to implement robust recruitment strategies in order to attract the talent needed to sustain their efforts,” OilCareers.com’s managing director Mark Guest wrote in the report.
Interestingly, if the industry can attract more young people to it, a shortage of “skilled” trainers to teach them will create another set of problems. Consequently, workers with at least five years of experience in the oil and gas sector will find themselves more in demand, particularly if they have a knack for passing on their knowledge.
The good news is that this all points to the fact that most experts see the upward cycle in the Gulf as something that can be sustained.