Labor shortage continues to plague expanding energy industry

Oil and gas companies will expand their staffs in 2012, but a shortage of skilled workers will create a critical talent gap for the industry, according to a report by recruitment firm NES Global Talent.

Demand for engineers will grow this year, as oil and gas exploration and production expands both on land and offshore, the firm said. But NES Managing Director Simon Coton said a depletion of skilled workers in oil and gas fields in the United States, Great Britain and Australia will be a major challenge.

Coton said the industry’s best chance for bridging the gap is to recruit workers from other fields, including shipbuilding and infrastructure industries.

Oil and gas companies also have set their sites on military workers, whose training in technical and high-pressure environments is comparable to oil field work.

“During the recession, lots of projects didn’t make it past the financial investment decision stage, but many were sanctioned in 2011, and as a result of this, we can expect an increase in demand for construction and commissioning roles,” Coton said.

Labor shortages have plagued the industry in recent years as shale drilling has led to an oil and gas production boom on North American land. Deep-water offshore drilling also has expanded globally leading to greater demand for workers in that field.

NES forecasts an expanding market for health, safety and environment specialists in the Gulf of Mexico, for deep-water engineers in Brazil and West Africa, and for liquefied natural gas specialists in  Australia and Asia .