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Recruitment in a challenging industry – and why you shouldn’t dismiss it

Johnathan Johnson, CEO at Fircroft

At the beginning of December, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), the cartel responsible for 40% of the world’s oil supply, announced it would not be deviating from its current production ceiling of 30 million barrels a day. With both international crude oil benchmarks, WTI and Brent, falling consistently day-on-day since the announcement it’s clear OPEC’s decision not to impose a lower production ceiling will continue to flood an already saturated market. And ultimately drive costs further down. But what does this shifting backdrop mean for recruitment in the industry?

Since the 30 million barrel ceiling was put in place last year OPEC has continually swamped the market with cheap crude oil, in what many suspect to be an attempt to drive higher-cost producers, like US shale, out of the market. Shale requires a significant amount of resources to extract, and with the average US breakeven price sitting at around $51, it’s no surprise that crude oil drillings in the US are down by 58% compared to last year. This substantial decrease in production has brought about bankruptcy for 16 US companies with high breakeven prices this year alone, resulting in significant job losses.

However there is still a substantial demand for recruitment professionals in the oil and gas industry, with companies looking for a wide range of hard-to-find candidates who possess specialist skill sets to fill niche roles. In particular there is a growing demand for senior engineers and supervising operators with extensive relevant experience. To remain competitive within a rapidly changing industry, companies are constantly trying to make their workforce more efficient, and looking to find new ways to work and ultimately increase productivity, a process which requires specialist recruitment firms with excellent knowledge of the sector.

In addition to the demand for niche skill sets, talent acquisition and management specialists can find new opportunities by looking to new regions. For example Kazakhstan is set to increase its oil exports by 13 million tons by 2020 with the establishment of a new oil field set for completion in 2016. At Fircroft we’ve recognized this growing ​market and recently reconfirmed our long term commitment to Kazakhstan’s energy market with a joint venture with the country’s Centrasia Group. Opportunities also continue to present themselves in countries with young oil and gas industries such as Mozambique, where the overseas investment of technology could potentially make it one of the largest exporters of natural gas in the world and facilitate significant economic growth for the country.

Recruitment is never an ‘easy’ industry. It often acts like a set of scales - with either a significant shortage of jobs for the number of qualified candidates, or an excess of jobs with not enough skilled candidates to fill them. Although a sector may seem challenging, there are always new opportunities. It’s just a case of finding them and adapting if a market shifts to either end of the scales – something a good recruiter should always be able to do. And that’s why the oil and gas sector will continue to offer exciting opportunities to enterprising recruiters whichever way the oil price goes in the coming months.

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