By OGJ editors
WASHINGTON, DC, June 11 -- A national effort is needed to find and retain petroleum professionals in the US, according to a new report by the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission.
An IOGCC task force concluded that the solution to the current personnel shortage requires a national effort focused on three areas: education of key stakeholders in the nation's energy future, outreach to the public and to students, and adequate research and development.
The association, which represents the governors of 30 oil and gas producing states, said it has established an internet-based career resource center where students and career counselors can find information on internships, scholarships, fellowships, educational programs, and industry references within the petroleum industry. The Geosciences Resource page can be accessed at www.iogcc.state.ok.us.
More action needed
But a website alone won't fix the problem, the association warned.
The IOGCC's Petroleum Professionals Blue Ribbon Task Force, led by North Dakota Gov. John Hoeven presented both short-term and long-term solutions to the existing manpower shortages in the oil and natural gas industry at the group's midyear meeting in Traverse City, Mich., June 10.
"A tight labor market for U.S. petroleum professionals—geologists, engineers and geophysicists—looms on our horizon. . .a coordinated industry effort involving industry, government agencies, and educational institutions is needed to reach out and educate the public about the importance of oil and gas to the national and global economy," the report stated.
Part of the problem has been self-inflicted, the association said, brought on by a lack of focus and communication among industry stakeholders.
"Unfortunately, the lack of such a cooperative effort in recent years has allowed negative perceptions of the US oil and gas industry to dominate public opinion," the report found.
Industry must be willing to commit the funds necessary to match government funding and provide resources in the form of data, technology, and training and internship opportunities on a larger scale that will allow more students to be trained compared with the last 15 years, the report said.
State, academic role
Industry alone can't solve the problem, IOGCC said.
State governments, in addition to managing regional energy resources, must provide funding for educational and vocational programs that will train and induct the petroleum professionals of the future, the report said.
In addition, academia must continue to provide the educational and research and development infrastructure and environment that are required to train the larger number of geoscientists, engineers, and other professionals that are critical to the success of the industry, IOGCC said.
To carry out these recommendations, the IOGCC task force proposed a conference, hosted by Gov. Hoeven, to bring light to the problem and develop a coordinated effort to bring about solutions. The group also plans to survey current oil and gas students on why they were drawn to the industry and relay those results to state and federal officials to develop outreach efforts built on the identified strengths.
"The success of the domestic energy industry will depend on the ability of operating and service companies to attract significant numbers of well-educated and environmentally responsible skilled laborers who can construct and maintain the energy infrastructure that is needed to deliver low-cost, safe energy to our society in the new millennium," the report said.
Hoeven was elected chairman of IOGCC at the meeting, succeeding Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas. Hoeven became governor in 2000. He will be the third North Dakota governor to lead IOGCC.