OTC: Industry needs experienced workers, more investors

May 3, 2006
The oil and gas industry must better inform the public about the challenges it faces in providing adequate, affordable energy, an exploration-production executive said at OTC.

Paula Dittrick
Senior Staff Writer

HOUSTON, May 3 -- The oil and gas industry must better inform the public about the challenges it faces in providing adequate, affordable energy, Mark Pease, Anadarko Petroleum Corp. senior vice-president, exploration and production, told an Offshore Technology Conference general session May 2.

"The industry as a whole is running very close to capacity" in its ability to secure materials and services, Pease said. He also said industry needs access to more US oil and gas opportunities.

WesternGeco Schlumberger Pres. Dalton Boutte agreed that access to oil and gas remains a problem, adding, "The restrictions that we faced 10 years ago are the same that we face today."

Oil and gas investment levels are too low to keep up with expected increases in energy demand, Boutte said. "There are still a lot of investors outside looking in.

Mohammed Hamel, director of energy studies for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, said energy policy-makers face the challenge of providing energy, particularly electricity, to more people worldwide.

He sees investment levels and environmental concerns as major challenges and said the industry "needs to take a proactive stand on the climate change debate."

WesternGeco's Boutte said the service sector is constrained by people and materials. Schlumberger, WesternGeco's parent, plans to hire more than 3,000 engineers this year.

Boutte urged industry to better manage its human resources on a global basis and also to make a better commitment to training personnel worldwide.

Fisoye Delano, general manager of Nigeria National Petroleum Corp., noted that inexperienced but trained individuals are available to work in the oil industry.

"In Nigeria, we have a large pool of engineering graduates available to work in the Gulf of Mexico and other parts of the world," Delano said.

Equipment limits
Transocean Inc. Pres. and Chief Executive Officer Robert L. Long agreed with the other speakers about the difficulty of finding skilled employees.

"The scarcest resource today is trained, experienced people," Long said. Another challenge is drilling wells faster and at lower cost. He hopes for the development of nontraditional drilling equipment suppliers and better opportunities for equipment repairs.

"We need equipment with better capacity and better reliability," Long said, adding that Transocean loses millions of dollars in revenue annually because of equipment downtime.

Contact Paula Dittrick at [email protected].