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Cautious Optimism Amongst The Oil And Gas Industry

26 Sep 2017
John Kennedy

Offshore Europe Conference

Returning to Edinburgh from the Offshore Europe Conference event in Aberdeen a few weeks ago, I was encourage to note a mood of “cautiously optimistic” permeating throughout the halls of the AECC for the future of the oil and gas sector.

There are a number of geopolitical factors that suggest the price of oil will remain stagnant. There remains an energy over-supply and an ever strengthening renewable sector which will undoubtedly play a key role going forward. However the tempered optimism that seemed to be in many of the conversations I had, stemmed from the fact that our demand for the commodity will continue for the foreseeable future despite “clean” sources being central to the rhetoric of energy investment at this time.

We do not yet have the technologies or economic tools to overcome our demand for oil and gas. There is no doubt that developing the renewable sector is central to most governments’ energy policies, as it should be, but oil and gas is not going anywhere. 

While the sale of petrol and diesel cars is will soon screech to a halt, we are still no closer to developing the same transportation solutions for the freight industry, and while homes will increasingly be powered by clean sources, we still haven’t engineered solutions for home heating, let alone powering the manufacturing sectors. Further, the growing populations in developing economies will continue to push the demand for liquid gold for decades to come.

Oil and Gas Jobs

While those from the rig roustabout to the project manager and everyone in-between that have been impacted by job losses and cuts may take a disgruntled view of these wind and solar developments, what must be recognised is the enemy of the industry is not the advent of pragmatic renewable energy solutions. Both industries will have to work together as part of the energy mix for generations to come.

So what can be said about the workforce and future headcount considerations? It could perhaps be agreed that the labour market has finally adjusted to the prolonged change in the oil price and while there has been some very tough times in the sector, I am confident that these times are now behind us.

Fresh North Sea Optimism 

The North Sea in particular is seeing new investments and discoveries and suddenly, a refreshed demand for young engineers is now prevalent.  Optimization and performance measurement is now central to the sector and the business of facility upgrades to improve plant performance means that the vacancies are starting to slowly swell. Those taking advantage of the demand for skills in the Middle East across projects in Saudi, Qatar and Kuwait, leaves opportunities for others in the UK market. Further, there are still shortages in the sector for certain skills across the project life cycle and supply chain.  

That being said, energy companies continue to search for new effective and efficient ways to make their businesses thrive and grow. Much emphasis is now on operating in leaner times and many would agree that the market has finally adjusted to the oil price drop being prolonged. For the job seeker, it is vital to be on top of industry news to establish where these skill shortages still exist in addition to where the next investments lie. 

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John Kennedy
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