A large number of new UK and international jobs will be created this year as Petrofac’s mature oil&gas assets (brownfield) business accelerates and internationalises.
Bill Bayliss, VP of Petrofac Brownfield, told Energy that the company has an immediate need for up to 70 more people for its UK North Sea operations, but that more than 200 additional engineers and other professionals will be in demand for the international side of the business over the next nine months or so. This would push Petrofac Brownfield’s head count past the 1,000 mark, though Bayliss warned that such a level of recruitment is contingent on landing overseas contracts currently being bid.
Notwithstanding, the Aberdeen recruitment programme alone will take numbers above 750. While the bulk of Petrofac Brownfield’s business remains UK North Sea, Bayliss has started to export this capability across what he described as the wider group’s “heartland” – primarily elsewhere in the North Sea, North Africa and Middle East. New satellite offices have been opened in Norway and Abu Dhabi to capture opportunities there. In addition, Petrofac Brownfield pre-qualified with StatoilHydro in 2007 and there is talk of work being carried out for the Norwegian company in Aberdeen because of Norway’s own skills shortages. The belief is that the Norwegian Continental Shelf is ready for the UK firm’s mature assets model.
At the start of 2008, the trade balance at Petrofac Brownfield was 90% UK North Sea versus 10% elsewhere. Under the wider group’s 2010 strategy programme, the international content is expected to reach 40% while still sustaining North Sea growth.
“We want to maintain our current base and maybe add one or two new clients. I think the UK business will naturally grow,” said Bayliss.
He pointed out that Petrofac Brownfield had come a long way in the three years since it was established as a unit of Petrofac Facilities Management. He predicts huge growth in the mature assets side of the hydrocarbons extraction market.
“Look at some of the statistics … you can see that probably 70-80% of oil and gas will be coming through existing infrastructure. We’re seeing huge demand for the skill sets we have in Aberdeen … working on live plant, understanding how operations work, getting equipment into confined spaces in often complex and very old installations. This sort of thing is required worldwide … not just the North Sea.
“We’ve been taken into different locations across the world by some of our existing clients. We’ve also won new work on our own account, for example, in Tunisia with Athena Petroleum services to give engineering support, and in Egypt for Rasheed Petroleum.
“We support Dubai Petroleum and have 40 guys here in Aberdeen carrying out a study into modifications work on existing assets and infrastructure; we have work in Equatorial Guinea with Marathon … onshore and offshore, plus last year we secured a modifications/new projects contract with Equatorial Guinea LNG Operations.”
But Bayliss admitted that finding new people was going to be tough, especially in the UK, where skills shortages remain endemic. He expects the 70 or so currently being advertised and hunted for to comprise a mix of individuals willing to go direct on to the company’s payroll, augmented by solus contractors.
“The reality of the UK market, in particular, is that the tax regime favours the one-man limited company. It’s very difficult to compete with that environment on a purely employee basis because of the tax benefits,” he said.