Oil industry labor shortage affecting safety, report says

A new report warns that a shortage of skilled labor is affecting safety in the global oil industry.

Nearly one third of those surveyed in the report cited the skills shortage as the biggest threat to the sector, while a lack of skilled trainers was identified as a major issue by more than 20 percent of participants.

The report, Global Oil & Gas Workforce Survey: Expectations for hires and pay rates in the oil and gas industry 2013, was issued this week by OilCareers.com, an international jobs board, and Air Energi, an energy industry staffing firm.

The report says the skills shortage is particularly acute in the liquefied natural gas and subsea sectors.

“The industry must concentrate on developing the workforce in order to ensure knowledge is passed on and the required experience is in place to manage the world’s oil and gas reserves,” Mark Guest, managing director of OilCareers.com, said in a statement accompanying the report.

The report authors cited the January terrorist attack at a natural gas facility in Algeria as the latest reminder of the risks that oil and gas workers face, and the difficulty firms have in attracting skilled workers to such areas of the world.

“Positions in certain geographic areas have historically attracted higher compensation to reflect the safety issues tied to the work location,” Mark Guest, managing director of OilCareers.com, said in a statement accompanying the report. “It is clear, though, that the industry must concentrate on developing the workforce in order to ensure knowledge is passed on and the required experience is in place to manage the world’s oil and gas reserves.”

One benefit for workers: The shortage means that the upward trend for oil industry salaries will continue, as firms compete for the experienced workers who are out there.

While some countries have been harder hit than others in finding enough skilled workers to fill oil and gas jobs, the report says the U.S.  maintains a long-standing pool from which to recruit.

The report says this year is expected to be a big one for operators thanks to rich shale gas and shale oil plays.

The report surveyed more than 170,000 oil and gas professionals worldwide. The seven major oil and gas producing regions are represented in the survey with respondents being drawn from over 50 countries.