Why peak oil’s passing means more work in oil and gas, not less.
It’s an inaccurate perception that oil and gas is a ‘sunset industry’ undergoing workforce reductions. Despite recent dramatic oil price decreases and an anticipated increase in mergers and acquisitions across the industry, oil and gas operating companies are in fact expecting to create jobs. According to the Telegraph, industry experts are also predicting record investment in the growing sector, one example being the decision by a consortium of firms, including BP and Shell, to invest £330m appraising a possible third phase of drilling in the giant Clair oil field, west of the Shetland Islands.
As the fossil fuel industry enters a new era, it will need highly skilled engineers to help keep the lights on for energy-dependent industries such as business and manufacturing, as well as mobile phones and the internet. An Activity Survey by Oil & Gas UK concludes that the global demand for oil and gas is forecast to increase by 28 per cent between now and 2035. A dynamic competitive landscape is likely to emerge, in which huge engineering challenges must be tackled in some of the harshest environments in the world in order to keep vital resources flowing.
To make oil and gas leaner than ever before, extracting increasingly hard to reach oil and gas with the lowest possible costs, will require an army of skilled engineers to develop effective techniques and technologies. This will certainly mean workforce reductions as a result of streamlining, but will be balanced by the creation of roles with new specialisations across a range of disciplines. These are predicted to be in civil, marine, structural and mechanical engineering.
Additionally, diversification into onshore shale gas is predicted to create jobs and “high activity” in parts of the UK that require them most. A report from Ernst and Young estimates that the development of shale gas in the UK could create a £33 billion investment opportunity, with the potential to create more than 64,000 jobs, principally in the North West. So future engineers need not worry about an imminent lack of engineering jobs.
The oil and gas workforce will not only weather the storm, but the future looks very bright for adaptable, cyclical engineers who remain aware of what’s current and respond to these changes in the job market. For those willing to work hard and create new solutions, working anywhere from the Alaskan slopes to the Sahara, this well remunerated industry still has much to offer.