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Oil and gas sectors see jobs boost, hindered by a lack of expertise

Investment is creating much-needed employment opportunities - but a shortage of technical expertise means many of the positions are left vacant.

A big increase in investment across the oil and gas sectors is creating much-needed job opportunities all over the world - but a shortage of technical expertise is leaving many of the situations vacant.

"If you look at the industry in general, you will see in the next five to seven years a shortage of market expertise.

"About 50 per cent of the experts will be retiring," said Rami Qasem, the chief executive for GE's oil and gas division in the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey.

GE, which supplies technology and services to oil producers, has responded with training programmes for its client companies, and plans to raise the amount of training hours provided in the region from 34,000 this year to 50,000 next year.

Trained and experienced oil and gas experts are ever more vital to the industry, as oil companies are increasingly moving into technically complex fields.

Growing demand for oil is driving up prices, which in turn makes expensive production commercially viable.

As a result, deep offshore oilfields, or oil trapped in hard-to-access rock formations, are now being tapped. The exploitation of these sources is made possible by technological progress.

"With new technology to get the oil out of the ground in far-reaching places in the world, all the people we are dealing with say that the amount of projects are increasing dramatically," said Jonty Bolsover, the sales director at Oil Consultants, a specialist recruiter.

"In the Middle East, there is going to be a huge demand for personnel," he added. His company supplies personnel to oilfield-services providers such as Halliburton and Schlumberger.

Like GE, these service companies are working on training programmes, and are looking for industry veterans to train less experienced staff.

While companies are looking for experience, they are also need to replenish their staff numbers after a bout of layoffs during the global recession, said Karim Abdellaoui,a business development manager of the website oilandgasjobsearch. Employment in the US oil and gas industry is expected to rise by 8 per cent in the decade up to 2020, according to the US labour department.

Industry demand is met by an increasing number of graduates.

"There are quite a few fresh graduates coming through into the oil and gas industry, and into mining.

"We are seeing a higher amount of candidates coming through," said Mr Abdellaoui, who said the number of job postings on its website rose to 12,000 from 10,000 earlier in the year.

fneuhof@thenational.ae

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