A career working in the oil and gas industry is certainly not for everyone. Often the work is tiring, hazardous and involves spending weeks away from home visiting volatile and dangerous parts of the world.
However, for those who can handle such conditions, there are significant advantages: careers in the oil and gas industry are stable and very well remunerated.
According to the National Careers Service website, new graduate entrants in the oil and gas engineering sector can earn between £25,000 and £35,000 a year. Engineers with three to five years experience may earn between £45,000 and £55,000 and lead engineers or those with management responsibility can earn £55,000 to £70,000 plus.
Oil drilling roustabout/roughneck salaries start at around £20,000 a year, rising to around £25,000 with experience. Engineers working offshore receive extra allowances.
Given that there may well be a jobs boom in the industry in the coming years, now is the perfect time to pursue a career in the sector. According to research conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers, an estimated 120,000 new employees need to be recruited globally over the next decade in order to avoid a skills shortage.
In the North Sea, BG Group and Maersk Oil have announced plans to establish two new fields. Government estimates suggest that this will not only create 700 new jobs but will also support a further 8,000 jobs in the economy as a whole.
The two companies have been motivated to invest in the new fields in order to take advantage of generous allowances announced in the recent budget. These measures aim to increase the extraction of harder-to-reach oil and gas classified as high-temperature-high-pressure (HPHT).
Over the last forty years, the majority of easily-accessible oil has been extracted and the UK, having been a significant exporter of oil and gas, is now reliant on buying supplies from other countries.
Despite the decline in output though, it is possible that there are 20 billion barrels worth of oil still to be tapped. To put that into context, since the 1960s, 698 offshore fields have produced just over 40 billion barrels.
The government hopes that by encouraging companies to invest in new fields it will herald a new era of oil and gas exploration in the North Sea, increasing production and, in turn, jobs and tax revenues.
Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, predicted that the new measures will "lead to billions of pounds of new investment." Jakob Thomasen, Maersk Oil’s chief executive, also commented that "the proposed HPHT allowance provides a welcome boost to new and challenging projects and can contribute to energy security."
There are a few established career routes into the oil and gas industry. Those still at school or college can apply for apprenticeships with gas and oil companies. There are also vocational qualifications such as process engineering maintenance or operations and maintenance engineering.
A number of universities offer degrees in oil and gas industry specific subjects, an example being petroleum engineering. There are also post graduate options: Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen offers an MBA in oil and gas management.
An organisation called OPITO, which stands for the Offshore Petroleum Industry Training Organization, manages an apprenticeship programme for entry into the oil and gas industry, and supports recruitment and placement in the sector. It runs a website called myoilandgascareer.com which has a wealth of career advice and information.
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