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Outlook for Explorationists: On the way up!

According to simplyhired.com, the number of jobs for exploration geologists has increased 142% since July 2009!  And according to the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG), between the years 2009 and 2010, geologists with 25 years of experience or more reported an 8.8% increase in salary.  This indicates the desire of companies to increase and maintain their staff levels for experienced and proven explorationists.

Recent surveys by the AAPG have shown that the salary ranges for geologists with zero to five years of experience showed little change.  This is probably a result of the hiring surge for recent graduates and the subsequent cooling off period combined with a down economy. 

And with a number of companies cutting costs and reducing manpower, most explorationists have chosen to stay with the same employer.  This information is based on a survey of U.S. salaries only, which due to its size and concentration of personnel working in the U.S. is still a good bellwether for the oil and gas industry. 

In Houston, one of the main activity centers, geologists are paid slightly lower than the national average.  This seems to indicate that energy companies are momentarily shifting away from exploration in the Gulf of Mexico due to the uncertainty surrounding the new rules and regulations yet to come, coupled with a surge in personnel demand in other parts of the country where unconventional production prevails.

Today’s list of major projects includes new areas that have yet to touch the job market for exploration professionals.  There are many international opportunities coming down the pipeline.  Recent major deals, such as the one BP struck with Russian giant Rosneft, will have a positive impact on the job market for exploration experts.  In this example, both companies plan to explore for natural gas and oil off the Russian Arctic continental shelf.  This gives BP access to a new area, and many job opportunities for exploration and development professionals will be one outcome.

With the price of oil rising rapidly by the day, and with exploration and production renewal in the Gulf still in question, companies are looking at many other areas of opportunity.  Natural gas and shale production is continuing to grow quickly throughout the beginning of 2011.  While natural gas exploration is currently increasing, crude oil prices on the other hand are likely to show more strength relative to natural gas, which in turn will affect the demand for further oil exploration.

Companies have a newly found focus for 2011, and onshore and offshore international and domestic exploration play a big part.  Job opportunities for explorationists are on the rise, and that is especially true for proven oil finders. 

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