Workforce demand is growing

Image: Ensign

Jobs are coming back. Despite the massive workforce reduction over the last couple years, service companies within the shale business are now starting to recruit again, says Rystad Energy, a Norway-based independent oil and gas consulting and business intelligence firm.

The North American shale industry in particular took a hard hit in 2014-16, Rystad says. Two of the largest land drillers—Nabors Industries and Helmerich & Payne—each announced staff reductions of more than 50 per cent.

“Among the top 50 service companies, around 300,000 workers, or 35 per cent of the workforce, were laid off since 2014,” says Audun Martinsen, vice-president of oilfield service research at Rystad Energy. “However, the negative trend is about to turn, and over the last few months, we have seen more job postings in North America from companies such as Weatherford, Nabors and Precisions Drilling.”

The offshore industry has been more resilient, but 2016 was still tough, Rystad says. FMC Technologies reduced its staff by 1,000, and Saipem cut 800 jobs in Europe, and they weren’t the only ones.

Things are beginning to look up, though. Recruitment is expected to increase once exploration and production spending increases, Rystad says. The firm expects shale-focused operators will increase their spending by 30 per cent in 2017, and offshore spending will grow in 2018.

“With more projects offshore being revived in 2017, we expect the offshore layoffs to stabilize and start to increase later in 2017. Already we see this trend in Norway, and it is only a question of time before it starts elsewhere,” says Martinsen. “The race for the best hands and brains has started in the industry, and the companies that have laid off people in a responsible manner are likely to have a competitive edge going forward.”