Employment is critical. Energy producers and service companies may be going through turbulent times as a result of the present oil price decline, but the industry isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Here’s why:
Four commodities provide almost 90% of the power Americans use every day. These commodities make it possible for U.S. citizens to turn on the lights, run the air conditioning, charge an iPhone, drive—or be driven (as opposed to riding a horse or walking)—to work, or the supermarket or soccer practice:
- Petroleum – 35%
- Natural gas – 28%
- Coal – 18%
- Nuclear (uranium) – 8%
These four commodities delivered the energy used by the USA’s 319 million people in 2014. The other 11% came from biomass, hydroelectric, wind, solar and geothermal. Exploring and producing these fuels requires human capital, new graduates, interns, managers, engineers, field technicians, CEOs and board members.
Oil & Gas 360® spoke to experts about current hiring trends in the oil and gas industry:
Back in November when OPEC decided to keep up production, we had a 3 or 4 month halt as companies tried to figure out what’s going on, but by the end of the first quarter as oil got back up near $60, you started to see two or three phenomena. One, you had private equity that’s wanting to come into the market. There’s approximately $80 billion of unlevered capital. Currently we have three groups asking us to put together teams and/or bring in executive advisors to help them evaluate opportunities.
One of the groups is looking for oilfield equipment and service teams; the other two are different size companies that are looking for teams—one that can command at least a half billion dollars in an equity infusion, the other one probably in the one [hundred million] to one-fifty. So that’s one side of it—where private equity is looking, probably waiting for the third quarter redeterminations and the assets that’ll become available.
There are some replacements and some retirements going on at the same time. And there are boards of directors—we have six current ongoing board searches. Some boards are asking, “do we have the right people on the board to help with strategy and guiding the CEO through our current downturn?”
If you look back at the demographics in the industry, after the downturn in ’85, ’86 and ’87, what was coming out of the universities? From ’80 to ’84, the number of undergraduate petroleum engineers from the University of Texas varied between 110 to 125, yet in ’89, ’90 and ’91, the average graduating class [of petroleum engineers] at UT was nine. Another quick statistic, in 2008 the total number of undergraduate petroleum engineers in all 17 universities in the U.S. was 600—that was all.
Comments from Dr. Will Fleckenstein, professor and former Department Head, Petroleum Engineering, Colorado School of Mines:
It’s a lot more competitive. Students have to sell themselves and they have to be willing to be much more flexible on where they’re willing to go to work and what type of work they’re going to do to get started.
The oil and gas industry hires a lot of our students as interns after their sophomore or junior year, so many of them when they graduate, they’ve actually had a lot of exposure both in field operations and in an office as far as working as an intern, and they get very good projects. In many ways it’s a long job interview, both for the companies and for the student.
Students have to recognize the demographics of the industry. We’re in the middle of what we call “the big shift change,” where students that graduated during the boom in the ‘70s are starting to retire and they have to be replaced. Today’s students have to realize that they have to be flexible, probably lower some of their expectations about what they thought their salary was going to be.
The industry expects graduates to be pretty well rounded and at the same time have those really strong engineering skills to be able to hit the ground running.
The industry needs people in every price cycle. A hiring conference next week in Denver is presenting experienced military personnel to the oil and gas and power industries. Some of the military candidate descriptions follow:
Marine Corps Officer Pursuing an MBA – company commander and highly decorated leader
Navy Technician with HVAC Experience – advanced training and experience in the electrical and mechanical troubleshooting, troubleshooting and corrective maintenance on Sonar Combat Weapons Systems and associated equipment
Field Artillery Officer; Project Manager – several successful overseas tours as unit Operations Officer Large project accountability
Electronics Technician Pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Nuclear Engineering – 10 years of experience on nuclear power plants, nuclear engineering, electrical distribution, and reactor and auxiliary support systems onboard the USS New Mexico
Combat Engineer with a Master’s Degree – several overseas tours as Combat Engineer Platoon Leader Company Commander Responsible for a vast number of large projects ranging from facility to environmental to construction projects
Maintenance Mechanic – 10 years in the U.S. Navy maintenance and repairs to high/low pressure pneumatic systems, seawater, freshwater, evaporators, reverse osmosis, refrigeration, air conditioning, diesel engines, gas turbine generators, and fuel systems documented results on mission critical equipment on both surface ship and submarine equipment
Artillery Officer with Exceptional Leadership Capabilities – executive officer, battalion operations officer, logistician and operational planner
Navy Mechanic with 12+ Years of Experience – maintaining the highest safety conditions in very stressful and dynamic environments Directed subordinates in the maintenance of all auxiliary and life support equipment onboard a nuclear powered submarine
Logistics Officer – company commander and battalion logistics officer experienced buyer and purchasing manager
Mechanical Supervisor with a Degree in Nuclear Engineering Technology – 9 years of experience in power plant operations and maintenance,operated propulsion equipment and radiological controls on a nuclear submarine, mechanical steam and fluid systems