As we start the end of the second quarter of 2021, we ask what are the key challenges faced by the oil and gas industry? And following a turbulent past 12 months for the oil markets, what can oil and gas companies expect and where are the job opportunities likely to be?
Trends in the market
What is certainly clear is that the demand for energy will continue to rise post pandemic not least because the global population is continuing to increase, but also due to the rising global economic prosperity which will fuel the extra need for global oil. The other important factor to consider for future oil and gas trends is, of course, the pressure that global energy companies are under to produce cleaner, efficient and more sustainable sources of energy.
As William Maloney, Director at Trident Energy and ATX Energy and who also serves as an Advisory Board Member at the University of Houston, points out in an article for Forbes, there has been solid progress as far as the industry cleaning up its act, “This is a tough task, but many groups are rising to the occasion. Just look at the work being done by industry, universities and governments to lower emissions, and you will see that a very large effort is being made to produce cleaner energy. It will take time, but the trajectory is clear to get to net zero emissions by 2050 or sooner.”
In fact, the big push to achieve ‘net zero’ emissions is a key priority for governments around the world. The UK became the first major global economy to pass a net zero emissions law in 2019 with the aim being to achieve its target by 2050. Former Energy and Clean Growth Minister, Chris Skidmore, said at the time, “We’re pioneering the way for other countries to follow in our footsteps driving prosperity by seizing the economic opportunities of becoming a greener economy.” Other global powers are following suit, notably China whose president Xi Jinping announced at a UN General Assembly in 2020 that it would also aim to achieve ‘net zero’ status by 2060.
All the global oil giants have invested in renewables to further demonstrate their commitment to the environment and cement their sustainability credentials. As reported by the renewal energy news site, Recharge, the French oil and gas multinational, Total recently appointed former energy adviser to the French finance minister, Stéphane Michel, as its president for gas renewables, energy and power as it seeks to build a 100 gigawatts (GW) renewables base. BP wants to attain a target of 50GW by 2030 that will include wind, solar and hydroelectric power. Shell also aims to become a net zero emissions business by 2050 with Norwegian energy company Equinor targeting carbon neutrality by 2030.
Diverse Oil and Gas jobs
Given the new world of work and the move to remote working, tech is likely to play a major part in the oil and gas industry’s development moving forward. Having the tech and digital infrastructure that will enable its workers to maximise productivity is vital.
Another key focus area for energy companies as they increasingly look at ways to modernise, cut costs and drive efficiencies is in the realm of AI, the adoption of which can help oil and gas companies detect oil pipeline defects, for example. AI powered big data applications can also assist with the analysing of huge volumes of data. Robots too can be used for exploration purposes and indeed robotics can play a pivotal role for worker safety on offshore rigs. Speaking to NS Energy online, Equinor robotics researcher Anders Røyrøy said, “By reducing those [dangers], we can make our operators safer and have a higher likelihood of getting everyone safely home from our assets.”
This will mean new job opportunities in areas such as cloud computing and cybersecurity, which includes the possibility for existing employees to upskill or reskill in the digital sphere. It will also entice more people to consider a career in the oil and gas industry. According to research by EY, over 8 in 10 oil and gas industry executives felt that they needed a more highly skilled workforce. The digitalisation of the industry and the use of AI and robotics is also more likely to attract younger generations, who care about a cleaner environment.
That said, energy companies must invest billions of dollars annually to ensure that global oil and natural gas demand can be met. The big danger, as Maloney indicates, is that insufficient investment could lead to higher oil prices, “This challenge will be difficult to achieve and if it is not handled effectively to develop or re-develop supply to stay in-step with demand, we will see a period of higher oil and gas prices.”
You can learn more about the latest oil and gas job trends in our ‘Energy Outlook 2021’ report, in which over 22,000 professionals working in the sector across 191 countries were surveyed. It was produced in association with Brunel International, the global leader in energy workforce solutions.
Click here to download the report.