Robust market and frontier locations boost salaries

Russell McCulley 
Sunday, April 1, 2012

Salaries for oil & gas industry engineers shot up over the past year, rising an average 6.1% across several professional disciplines, according to a new survey released by recruitment firm Hays.

The average permanent salary across the survey's sample of 144,000 oil & gas professionals rose to the equivalent of $80,458, up from $75,813 last year. The boost can be attributed to a resurgent industry buoyed by strong oil prices and a rebounding global economy, according to Hays' Oil & Gas Global Salary Guide 2012.

‘Whilst South America and Asia Pacific continued to lead the way in new investment, two of the traditional power houses of the industry, the North Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, also came back on line in terms of hiring,' a summary of the survey said. ‘This added to an already busy market, where very few areas of the globe were left untouched.'

Subsea engineers ranked highest in average salaries, with senior professionals earning $105,200 and manager level staff reporting salaries of $146,900. Drilling engineers gained ground in 2012 and now earn an average $98,000 for senior staff and $142,500 for managers. Among reservoir and petroleum engineers, senior professionals earn an average $97,800 and management level staff take in an average $123,400, Hays said.

‘These are figures for average salaries across the world and there will be many highly skilled engineering professionals earning considerably more, particularly those in high paying countries such as Australia, the US and Norway,' said Matt Underhill, managing director of Hays Oil & Gas.

‘It is also worth noting that around 40% of engineers are contractors, which shows an industry that is bringing a wealth of new projects online.'

The survey also found strengthening confidence in the market, with 26.7% of respondents reporting an ‘extremely positive' outlook, up from just 9.7% in 2011's poll. About 75% of employers expect staffing levels to increase in the next year; salaries are also likely to rise further, with nearly a third of respondents expecting pay to increase 10% or more. Only 17% expect salaries to remain static or decrease.

Expat pay

In a separate salary study, researchers at the Curzon Partnership reported that Nigeria tops the list of major oil & gas nations in the amount of supplementary pay that goes to attract international senior energy company staff.

The ‘country premium' that Nigeria pays expats in senior positions – general manager or equivalent – is around 45% of base pay, bringing total salary to an average £290,000 per annum, the executive search firm said.

‘Frontier markets pay an additional country premium as it is harder for expats, especially with a family, to achieve the same lifestyle in Nigeria or Mongolia that they have been used to in the US or UK,' said Helen Di Mauro, partner at Curzon Partnership. ‘The country premium can be so high that some general managers working overseas can earn more in a year than their company CEO based in the UK or USA.'

Nigeria edged out the Kurdistan region of Iraq, where total pay can reach £234,000, including a 30% country premium, and number three-ranked Libya, where general managers can earn £234,000, including a 30% country premium. Indonesia and Ghana offer country premiums of 40% and 35%, respectively, bringing total annual compensation in Indonesia to £224,000 and to £209,250 in Ghana.RM

Categories: Activity South America Asia Africa Engineering

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