Fancy working on an oil rig?
If you work offshore in the oil or gas industry, commuting to work in a helicopter is what you could be doing.
If your current sector is facing cuts then targeting the Oil & Gas market is a great route because you can use your transferable skills efficiently in this sector. Highly skilled workers and engineers are very much in demand while other areas face skills shortages.
Oil & Gas Sector
Oil and gas are the world’s most valuable energy resources. They provide power for our homes, enable us to run our cars, aeroplanes, trains and shops, and give us plastics and other synthetic materials. The oil and gas industry is experiencing rapid market growth, competitive and market change and the UK is now recognised as a leader in subsea engineering.
Demand is increasing for gas and oil globally, so it is important to leverage these national resources to the full before they run out. Cooperation and sharing best practice and experience between governments, key industry players and regulators will ensure innovation, safety and enhanced productivity.
In the UK, we rely on oil and gas for 70% of our needs and 40% of the UK’s oil and gas reserves remain to be extracted.
Health and safety and the environment are primary concerns of the oil and gas industry. The potential risk to the environment is catastrophic should there be a disaster, so working in this area carries responsibilities ethically.
Trends in Oil & Gas
Export is an opportunity for sales growth in markets such as Brazil, Mexico, Saudi Arabia and Australia.
Technological advancements are enabling ways to improve better efficiency, enhance production, understand complex reservoirs and reduce drilling costs.
Fracking, a new and unconventional oil and gas production method, is in the news. It is the process of drilling down into the earth before a high-pressure water mixture is directed at the rock to release the gas inside. It is controversial as it is perceived to have a high environmental cost because it can cause earth tremors and requires a lot of water to be transported on to the site.
Production trends include integrated services for the operation and maintenance of fields, late life operation of mature fields and light weight slim line structures.
The government has three energy strategies; oil and gas, nuclear and offshore wind and there is a business and government action plan for oil and gas.
The government is taking measures to tackle the engineering skills gap and has invested £7M in a new research facility; the Neptune National Centre for Subsea and Offshore Engineering. This centre will act as a place for industry and academia to interact and to develop highly skilled graduates to address skill shortages.
Gas and oil are crucial for the UK’s economy; it accounts for nearly 20% of corporation tax and £11.5B of revenue to the Exchequer in 2012. Oil and gas chain supplies were £27B in 2011.
You can work on shore or off shore. In the UK, the oil and gas industry is mainly located in the East of Scotland. 18000 people work on a regular basis on fixed production platforms and mobile drilling rigs, floating production storage and offloading units. Offshore, working hours are typically 12 hours on and 12 hours off continuously for two weeks, followed by a two/three week rest period rest.
The long working day, remoteness of the location, challenging weather conditions, lack of privacy, separation from friends and family, confined work and reliance on helicopter transport are not everyone’s cup of tea. However, a long break of two or three weeks not working compared with the two-day weekend that many employees have is very appealing to some.
The average age of the workforce is 41 and the trend is growing for workers under 30. 84.8% are British with the rest made up of over 130 different nationalities. Skilled and experienced workers are in high demand with an international career a possibility and employees liable to be poached by the renewables sector.
The oil and gas industry provides employment for over 400,000 people in the UK. It is Britain’s largest industrial sector and also the biggest industrial investor.
Large oil industry employers include ExxonMobil, Gazprom, Lukoil, Royal Dutch Shell and BP. Smaller players, flexible, agile and entrepreneurial in approach are going to play an increasing role.
New independent operators have been entering the market taking on existing assets in the North Sea and focusing on maximising recovery through new technology and approaches. In Scotland, there are over 2000 supply chain companies in oil and gas.
Offshore, you could work for an operating company who hold the exploration and production licences and operate the production facilities and drilling companies who are contracted to undertake drilling work and maintain their drilling rigs and major contractors who provide integrated operations and maintenance services to the operating companies. For example, FPSO (floating production and storage and offloading units), operators who operate and maintain floating production storage and offloading units and service companies who provide specialist assistance to both operating and drilling companies. Offshore, a typical core crew is 50 to 100, mainly men.
Oil and Gas Qualifications and skills
Qualifications in science subjects are a must including degrees in engineering and applied sciences.
Offshore installations have a lot of sophisticated equipment and need highly skilled people who understand both the technology and the processes.
You need to be able to work in a team collaboratively and have resilience for when working long shifts and periods away from home offshore, and emotional intelligence and excellent communication skills to deal with the challenges that this can bring.
Oil Career and Job Prospects
Oil and gas offer excellent career opportunities especially in engineering as there is a skills/talent shortage.
The main jobs include:
- Exploration and production
- Marketing & Research
- Research and Development
Careers for Scientists include mudlogger, hydrologist and process engineer.
Engineer jobs include; chemical, civil, drilling, mining and petroleum engineers.
If you have a Maths background, oil and gas could be right up your street with jobs including engineering geologist, geochemist and geophysicist.
Business students could work as an account manager, oil broker or plant manager, for example.
Job and skills shortages and what is being done
There is a lack of mid-experience workers who often move to work abroad as the industry enters new locations.
The industry will need an additional 15,000 staff over the next 4-5 years.
Industry and government are looking at establishing a national programme to retrain ex-military personnel who often have the skills the industry needs, and this is great news for people being made redundant in the forces – their transferable skills are useful and in demand.
Managers, engineers and professional scientists are the most difficult to recruit.
OPITO are organising transition training programmes for skilled workers with relevant practical experience in other industries that are facing redundancies or reduced opportunities. Programmes cover instrumentation, process and electrical disciplines.
The offshore industry has a minuscule number of women, just 3.7% of 30% of them working in catering. Women are represented in only half of all offshore disciplines. Younger women under age 29 are attracted to working overseas, with it being a challenging environment for working mothers.
Attracting more talented women is an opportunity to grow the talent pool.
This career guide created exclusively for The Telegraph gives you an overview of oil and gas. For more detailed information, see links below.