Oil and gas contractor market varies wildly in Q3

Thursday 21 November 2013

The latest Hays Global Job Index paints a mixed picture of global demand for oil and gas contractors, as different regions and disciplines face a wide range of challenges. Although internationally, demand for permanent and temporary staff eased off slightly in the third quarter of this year, sentiment remains positive for the end of 2013 and into the New Year.

“While global economic uncertainty in 2012 continued to keep regional oil and gas labour markets slightly depressed, Q3 of 2013 indicates that the situation is stabilising. We anticipate that there will be a gradual return to much higher numbers for the Global Job Index in Q4 and Q1 of 2014 with decreases in the price of crude oil fuelling demand,” says John Faraguna, global managing director of Hays Oil & Gas.

Based on the number of vacancies posted on nine oil and gas websites around the world, the Index stood at 1.7 in September, down slightly from the score of 1.75 achieved in the previous quarter and below the 1.9 figure set down in the same quarter of last year. Within Europe, demand for expertise remains far higher than it was in 2011, but remains ten per cent below last year’s result. But the overall picture looks fairly stable, Hays says, with some fields demonstrating particular shortages.

In the UK, the data shows that health and safety roles are among the most frequently advertised, and pay seems to match this - the average health and safety manager earns close to $100,000 (£62,000) per year. Specialist engineering functions make up the bulk of demand, with subsea experience unsurprisingly leading the way. Indeed, the typical salary for an engineer in this discipline is just over $107,000. Geosciences knowledge is also highly sought, while it appears that operational roles are on the rise again after a period of comparative stability.

Although the summer period usually signals a quiet period for recruitment as many workers enjoy their holidays and some companies even go into shutdown for a time, Hays suggests that this year “there has been a little more to it”.

But not every market has followed the same trend. In sharp contrast, the Middle East demonstrated the strongest performance worldwide, with a number of projects that were postponed or suspended in the first half of the year finally getting the green light.

Interestingly, because companies are becoming aware of the lengthy periods required to process employment they are currently advertising and hiring for roles which may not actually begin until the start of next year. Contractors looking to exploit these opportunities overseas may want to start exploring their options sooner rather than later - and drilling and well engineering, as well as geosciences, are likely to be high on employers’ priority lists.

Another area of opportunity for oil and gas contractors looking beyond European assignments lies in North America; development geoscientists and enhanced oil production and recovery specialists are among the most highly sought. More generally, companies in the region are looking beyond the traditional oil and gas hubs within the region to meet anticipated labour shortages, recruiting worldwide to fill specific skills gaps. For highly qualified professionals with the right expertise, it may be that there are plenty of opportunities to explore.

By Victoria McDonnell

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