Close your eyes and remember the days of 2003. Disney’s Finding Nemo is released, the terminator himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger, is elected governor of California and England win the Rugby World Cup.
The oil and gas industry was in a staggeringly different place, particularly in America. Back in 2003 American oil fields were thought to be drying up and investment was moving towards expensive terminals to import gas instead of export it. Skip forward to 2013 and this story has totally changed. It is a country that could be on the path to becoming energy independent: a dream that seemed impossible just a decade ago. The change? America embraced the technology for accessing their natural shale reserves and in the process has charged ahead in the international market in this area.
There was an energy crisis in this decade. From the mid-1980s to 2003, the inflation-adjusted price of a barrel of crude oil was generally under $25 a barrel. This rose during 2003, peaking at $147.30 in 2008 after which the recession hit and prices started to fall again, although never back to their pre-2003 prices. Oil & gas now supplies 57% of the commercial energy that the world consumes and oil and gas now produces more than 25% of GDP in Russia and Central Asia.
In the last ten years the industry has shown that it can extract a huge volume of oil and gas from shale (rock) and from sandstone deposits, by using old technologies in new ways. There are those who argue that it’s the single biggest advancement in oil production for 150 years – and anywhere there’s a boom is a great time for those who work for us. Here at Fircroft we’re experiencing a great time for our contractors in their work – particularly for roles in America. We have opened offices across the US to support the industry and allow us to provide a localised service to both our clients and contractors.
What about the UK? In 2012, 50 million cubic metres of petroleum were produced, 98% of which was from offshore fields. Until the early 2000s, the UK was a major exporter of oil and gas but it is now more of an importer. Within the EU the UK is still the largest producer of oil and gas and there are 30,000 people employed in the industry so it remains a strong time to be involved in this area.
There has been a major change in the oil industry in that it can’t rely on monopolising the transport fuel market any more. Increasingly competition for other industries is decreasing it as more efficient vehicles are created and biofuels are starting to replace oil as liquid fuels. In the last two years all major importing countries have adopted strong polices on carbon emissions and vehicle efficiency. Whilst it’s unlikely that current policies will make a huge difference, it is likely that they will lead to more stringent policies which might end up having a knock-on effect on the oil industry.
What will this mean for the future of employees in this sector? It’s incredibly hard to tell how the market will change over the next ten years, as shown by the attitudes in the American industry ten years ago. However, it is possible that focus will increase on technology and collaboration and there is also an argument to be made that although usage in the West may plateau there is a huge expanding market appearing and growing in Asia and Russia.
The fact remains that the oil and gas industry is flexible but strong. Changes will and do happen but opportunities for employment continue to be plentiful and Fircroft is asked to fill new vacancies all the time. View our current oil and gas vacancies.