Adipec 2017: Sector battling negative image in mission to find talent

Environmental activists in canoes blocking a rig's path.
Shell's contract for the Polar Pioneer has been cancelled

The heads of two US oil service firms today revealed their fears about a lack of new talent coming into the sector.

They said many young people had been put off careers in oil due to its often poor public image and an unwillingness to “go where the resources are”.

McDermott chief executive David Dickson said at the Adipec conference: “Over the last three years there has been a lot of negative sentiment towards oil and gas.

“But oil is going to be with us for a long time so we need to think about bringing in new talent.

“In three years you can lose a generation of good talent. We have to get into high schools and educate young people.

“We need to tell them this is a good industry driven by technology. We have to get that message across to the next generation.”

Lorenzo Simonelli, chief executive of Baker Hughes, a GE company, said: “We have to find talent from the next generation. In the current environment too many resources are in more extreme locations. People do not want to work where the resources are any more.”

Mr Simonelli and Mr Dickson both said robotics and automation needed to be more widely adopted throughout the sector.

But Mr Simonelli said using robotics did not necessarily mean headcount reductions would be needed, rather, labour and skills would be shifted to IT, automated drilling and other areas.

He added: “This is an exciting industry and we should be recruiting talent. Hundreds of thousands of people have left during the downturn.

“We’re not going to be able to do that too often before people say they do not want to come back this industry.”

Mark McCollum, chief executive of Weatherford, said the number of people employed per well does have to go down, however, saying labour accounted for 30% of costs in that area.