data: Oil & gas has been prevalent in the energy industry for decades: with
technological advancements how have engineering jobs changed?
How has working in the oil and gas industry changed? <H1>
Since the first oil well was drilled in 1859, oil and gas exploration
has evolved exponentially, largely thanks to technological developments and
changing economic factors, including:
A growing global population
Increasing energy consumptions from
changing consumer behaviour
Climate change and sustainability
In addition, to be
successful in their oil job, engineers themselves are faced with emergent expectations
regarding their behaviour, one of which is the ability to adapt.
Not only does the modern
oil and gas engineer need to be a
creative, innovative thinker to
offer alternative problem-solving in their job, but they also have to be
knowledgeable about relevant technology and computer systems. Technology is increasingly
used across all facets of the energy industry, and evolves continuously.
After economic changes, technological advancements and
changes to personal behaviours, is a change in the engineer’s typical working
Following the development of offshore oil wells and
floating LNG platforms, plus a trend for contract workers and expatriate
personnel, the life and remit of an oil engineer has changed dramatically since
the industry’s inception.
Working on an offshore
oil rig <H2>
Offshore oil wells were first developed in 1891 in the form of submerged
oil wells, and although offshore facilities remain more expensive to set up
than onshore oilfield sites, they can produce enormous amounts of oil, meaning
that these facilities are increasingly in development, with huge oil companies
commissioning offshore projects across the globe.
hyperlink - Around 30% of global oil production comes from
It’s estimated that there are almost 1,500 offshore
oil developments in existence. With an increase
in the number of offshore oil wells comes an increase in engineering jobs on offshore oil rigs.
Whereas onshore oil technicians can return home at the end of their
shift, working conditions are different for offshore oil engineers; working
offshore you’re required to be away from home for around 2-3 weeks at a time with
shift patterns generally following a 12-hour working day. The offshore
lifestyle can be very rewarding, with salaries compensating oil engineers for
their combination of specialised skills, safety risks taken, and time spent away
The impact of
technology on the energy industry <H2>
Oil and gas companies were pioneers of the digital age between 1980–1990
utilising technology to progress their operations. The adoption of new
technology, like virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), and even more
sophisticated computers are still having a huge impact on the way engineers do
The last decade has seen enormous advances in technology relating to
estimating, finding and producing oil and gas. Only a few years ago these
technologies would have seemed like fiction to the same engineers that work the
same installations and job roles. New technologies have paved the way for energy
companies of all sizes to find substantial quantities of natural oil and gas
and the industry's focus on developing technological solutions has increased
the world’s producible reserves and improved efficiencies.
From supercomputers to nanotechnology, equipment such as drones and
sensors have revolutionised monitoring and maintenance. Seismic imaging
technologies, for example, help drilling personnel find fuel that is trapped
miles undersea and underground. The development of subsea oilfields enables us
to reach deeper underwater and greater distances from shore with higher
reservoir temperatures and pressures.
Ultimately, whilst technologies
enable greater production at lower costs, they still require engineers to
orchestrate them and interpret the data, creating a new wave of technology-centric
jobs that simply didn’t exist several years ago.
The rise of the
contractor workforce <H2>
In our recent Oil & Gas Outlook report we learned that energy employers are
increasingly turning to contract and temporary workers in order to staff their
projects. Not only has there been a rise in the number of contractors, but
thanks to global travel advancements and localised skills shortages, a huge
number of Oil & Gas workers are now expatriates and spend the majority of
their careers overseas.
(survey stat – graphic - 78% of energy providers actually rely on a contract expatriate workforce.
As an expatriate contractor, you can generally
expect job perks to include things like financial bonuses, housing / car / meal
allowances, paid-for travel for your home rotations, and increasingly,
training. As more energy companies strive to attract and retain their personnel
in an increasingly competitive marketplace, in cases where personnel relocate
with family, support packages have sometimes been extended to support the contractor’s
family, with assistance for spouses to find a job, and schooling support for
For employers, managing an
expatriate workforce has as many complexities as it does advantages. For many expatriates,
once the project life-cycle has run its course, they’ll relocate to a new
project in a new location – wherever that may be in the world, broadening their
horizons to new cultures. Thanks to this diverse cultural experience it’s known
that expatriate workforces carry with them a plethora of benefits when it
comes to working in multi-national teams.
Other market trends indicate an increasing number
of female engineers choosing to pursue careers in energy, though not necessarily
within oil and gas.
The prevalence of
other energy sources <H2>
Since the turn of
the century, renewable energy sources have sky rocketed, becoming a competitor
to more traditional fuel sources, as both parties rely on skilled engineers for
their staff base. However, for personnel, this has delivered the potential for
more oil and gas workers to cross-skill into the power industry.
Engineers themselves recognise their capacity to
cross skill in this manner; in our Outlook Report which surveyed
over 33,000 members of the oil and gas community, over 50% cited renewable
energy as their biggest area for consideration, should they move away from oil
What do the changes
in the oil and gas industry mean for engineers? <H2>
The competitive and costly nature of the sector means that the oil and
gas sector is one of the fastest moving industries in the world and subsequently
engineers need to be quick to adapt to change, and open minded to new
possibilities and continued learning.
NES help candidates
and employers to navigate the changing oil and gas market. <H2>
Our recruiters source candidates for some of the biggest energy projects
across the world, with jobs available across various industry verticals. Through tailored workforce solutions, we’ll help energy clients to staff their projects, and through demonstrable
experience (we’re proud to look after over 12,500 contractors), our
discipline-specific recruiters will help support contractors on their assignments, and help candidates prepare for the job market.