Within this decade a generation of senior oil and gas industry personnel will be retiring. And recent discoveries of large gas- and/or oil-bearing reservoirs in Australia and New Zealand, the Americas, the Arctic, Ireland, Eastern Europe, Eastern Russia, and West Africa, East Africa, and South Africa combined with the increased utilization of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing technologies have suddenly increased the demand for engineering and science graduates who will direct and run the production and enhanced recovery programs.
The coming shortage of technical and experienced workers at the senior and managerial levels will provide the opportunity for current lower-ranking and novice rig hands to get into the more technically demanding posts in the oil and gas industry.
In Australia, it's been estimated that about half of all the currently active oil and gas industry workers will retire within about 10 years. The acute lack of local talent has driven up industry salaries in Australia in the hope of attracting workers from other, similar industries (such as mining and construction) and retaining those that are already within the industry. In Canada, retirements and competition from other industries will require the hiring of around 10,000 replacement workers by 2015. In the oilsands sector of Alberta alone, around 5850 new jobs (approximately a 29-percent increase over the 20,304 filled jobs in 2011) will have become available by 2015. Welders, heavy equipment operators and maintenance mechanics and electricians, energy production engineers, process control technicians, reservoir engineers, etc. are just some of the approximately 38 core oil and gas industry occupations that will or might experience high growth rates within this decade and beyond.
In South Africa, the number of suitable graduates from tertiary education is way below the number of workers needed for the oil and gas industry. With an inadequate number of geologists, engineers, managers, and technical personnel, the industry in South Africa has started to experience delays and higher cost overruns. Meanwhile in the UK, 15,000 new jobs will become available just to cover the projected £22 billion worth of additional projects that will be implemented, which includes the construction and commissioning of 33 new oil and gas platforms. In addition, replacements will have to be found for the 22,000 senior engineers and geoscientists who will retire within the decade.
The labor gap in the oil and gas industry has intensified the competition between companies to attract the best talent that can make positive, long-term contributions to the industry. With more and more technically complex projects coming online that target oil and gas fields located in the most extreme environments and that come with very challenging drilling conditions (deep-water offshore fields, arctic regions, high-temperature and/or high-pressure reservoirs, bituminous and extra-heavy oil deposits), the need to acquire capable and conscientious front-line supervisors and managers who get the job done safely and efficiently will become even more urgent.