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Job Market Update: Energy opportunities abound

With the stabilization of oil and gas prices since 2009, the volume of acquisition and divestment transactions is up, according to the transaction advisory firms here in the United States. Larger companies are selling conventional assets that are not being exploited to free up technical and capital resources to move to unconventional plays with promises of more, longer-life reserves. Smaller and newer players are picking up these conventional assets, even in the controversial offshore (and will need help working them).

When smaller companies acquire mature assets from larger companies, these assets assume a higher degree of importance to the values of the acquiring firms. Therefore, they will demand a relatively higher degree of technical attention than they may have been given in the recent past. It is an opportunity for exploitation professionals to jump in and shine.

In the unconventional world, the need for statistical talent is probably growing, increasing the need for people who have expertise in risk analysis, production analysis and Monte Carlo simulation techniques. Many engineers and geoscientists have not yet had a reason to develop these skills, but the need for them will be increasing with the pace of the new, unconventional plays.

Also, in many areas of the world, both sides of the LNG equation will need attention: The liquification and regasification will need engineering to make gas a more transportable commodity, even in these gas plays in the United States.

Currently, oil is in favor due to its high price and its simplicity as a global commodity, in both the exploration and exploitation arenas and in the producing asset transaction world. This should lead to a need for more people who understand secondary and tertiary recovery even from smaller companies who have acquired old assets.

People with technical skills will be needed in all areas to squeeze out the last drops of hydrocarbons when it makes commercial sense.  We have not noticed layoffs after the incidents that have caused a slowdown in the Gulf of Mexico, including the blowout and the four hurricanes that have had an impact on the business there; rather we see a shift in the need for talent toward dealing with the government regulations, safety improvements, and in preparation for environmental response, which, in our opinion has been remarkably fast. 

Our industry reacts to solving problems, and this response by two separate systems for blowout control exhibits the readiness of the industry to move quickly due to an understanding of the issues involved and the rapid deployment of the appropriate technical manpower to accomplish it. 

Opportunities in all of these career areas abound, and there are many ways to increase our skills through specialized training and on-the-job experience to anticipate where the talents will be needed in the short-to-intermediate terms.

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