Is it now a dog-eat-dog world in oil and gas?

Tuesday 17 June 2014

The talent shortage in the oil and gas industry is turning the hiring environment into a dog-eat-dog world, if the findings of a new survey are anything to go by.

Research from Mercer LLC, which included more than 120 companies, showed 66 per cent of global energy companies have poached employees from one of their contemporaries to support their business as it expands, the Denver Business Journal reported.

Competition is hotting up all over the place, especially in oil and gas hubs, meaning limited company contractors that have the skills will be in high demand.

Kathy Dahlman, a Denver-based principal with Mercer, told the news portal: "The industry is growing, we’re adding more than 500,000 jobs over the next five years [around the world], there’s a skilled worker shortage, and there’s a wave of retirements coming.

"There’s not enough people, even if you’re paying the top of the top of the wage scale, there’s not enough skilled candidates."

So how do businesses deal with the dearth of talent? According to Mercer, you have to use all the weapons in your arsenal, including borrowing the skills you need via temporary workers, transforming the business to focus on the skills of people who are available and continuing with traditional employment methods.

This is becoming a more popular way of thinking and at the recent Offshore Technology Conference 2014 in Houston many experts were propounding the importance of focusing on people and aligning this to a key purpose.

Susan Cunningham, senior vice president of exploration and business innovation at Noble Energy, told attendees at the event that her company has managed to grow ten-fold in ten years because they align everything to a clear purpose, Primeast reported.

She explained that the firm works to ensure the daily activities of every worker and contractor are linked to its purpose. This enables Noble Energy to drive organisational change through its people and maximise existing skills.

By taking such an approach, the firm also puts itself at an advantage competitively, especially when it comes to attracting and repeat hiring temporary workers.

Indeed, by ensuring that contractors feel as aligned to a purpose and part of the team as permanent employees, businesses can make themselves a more appealing prospect to talent.

This helps to attract the skills needed, even if that means diverting them away from competitors.

It's clear that contractors and permanent candidates are somewhat in the driving seat when it comes to employment in the oil and gas sector.

Especially for the self-employed, there is now the chance to pick and choose projects like never before, as long as a person has the desired skills.

As decommissioning activity intensifies, contractors that work within the field will be in particularly high demand.

Shell is just one company currently engaged in decommissioning activity and has recently announced that it will dismantle the Brent Spar platform in the North Sea,

The Journal reported that Able has been awarded the contract and by 2040 decommissioning plans are expected to total £35 billion. Shell claims that over the rest of the decade, expenditure will average £1 billion per year, with activity centering around 40 platforms and 80 fields that have reached the end of their lives.

By Victoria McDonnell

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