Big crew change now 'in full swing'

April 1, 2012

Staffing shortages are creating project delays at a majority of large oil & gas companies, according to new data released by management consultancy Schlumberger Business Consulting.

The much-discussed ‘big crew change' – the retirement of geoscientists and engineers hired before the industry-wide recruitment cuts of the mid- 1980s – is in full swing, SBC said, just as unconventional gas and deepwater development have upped the complexity and technical challenges of E&P. SBC's 2011 Oil & Gas Human Resources Benchmark Survey estimates an outflow of more than 22,000 petrotechnical professionals, or PTPs, by 2015, with a net loss of 5500 highly experienced PTPs. ‘The recruitment of new graduates will compensate this loss in total net numbers of PTPs, but will not fill the experience gap,' SBC said.

The survey polled officials at 37 upstream companies that collectively account for about 37% of global oil & gas production. Nearly 70% of NOCs, 60% of major IOCs and 45% of independent operators that participated in the survey said staffing difficulties had caused project delays.

Attrition rates among experienced PTPs also increased in 2011. Citing the consultancy's ‘PTP intensity' metric, which measures the correlation between the number of technical employees in a company and the organic growth of the company's operated production, SBC's survey found that firms with a higher PTP intensity had a correspondingly higher growth in production. Highergrowth companies also demonstrated more ‘diversity and flexibility in developing their talent pool', SBC said.

‘Faced with the prospect of steadily rising demand for oil and gas in the next two decades, and increasing technical challenges to meet that demand, the most successful E&P companies should consider human resources as the main driver for long-term production growth.'

Higher-growth companies participating in the survey said women make up about 27% of their geosciences workforces, compared to 18% in lower-growth companies. Women made up 19% of the petroleum engineering staff at higher-growth companies, versus 11% at lower-growth organizations.

Increasingly ambitious local content targets set by the governments of oil-rich developing countries – often as high as 80% to 90% for middle management positions – are complicating efforts to staff up subsidiaries of foreign operating companies.

‘This trend towards nationalization of talent within the E&P industry is a major challenge,' SBC said.

The 2011 Oil & Gas HR Benchmark Survey included responses from 18 independent E&P companies, 13 NOCs and six IOCs.



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