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By Robert Rapier on Jan 24, 2009 with no responses

What Manpower Shortage?

Much has been made of the manpower shortage in the oil industry. I have been interviewed about it, I have written about it, and I saw it first hand when I was working for ConocoPhillips in Aberdeen, Scotland. Recruiting people was very difficult, and contractors – especially process engineers – were commanding unbelievable salaries. I got so many calls from headhunters – including the companies mentioned in the story below – that I literally hated to pick up the phone for fear I was going to get tied up for 15 minutes.

Well, that was then. Since oil prices have fallen, ConocoPhillips has announced they are laying off 4% of the workforce, Schlumberger is laying off 5% of their North American workforce, and now contractors in the North Sea are rolling back salaries by 10%:

North Sea contractors facing a 10% pay cut

More than 1,000 North Sea contractors will see their pay cut by an average of 10% as oil companies feel the impact of lower crude prices.

The wage reductions affect only one oil service business, Wood Group Engineering (North Sea), but its rivals could follow suit as their oil company clients seek to reduce costs.

I worked with Production Services Network (PSN) when I was there, and the story mentioned them as well:

Among the other large North Sea oil service firms are PSN and AMEC.

Bob Keiller, chief executive of Aberdeen-based PSN, said: “We are looking at all ways to help our customers reduce costs.”

One of the reasons that I decided to join the oil industry in the first place was that I felt like it was a safe harbor in a world that would be facing big energy challenges in the near future. In fact, the energy sector has been mentioned as a place to find ‘recession-proof jobs.’ Some are about to discover that even so-called recession-proof jobs can be impacted by a recession.

Note: For the gardeners who read this blog, I just started a gardening journal this morning. It is basically just a journal of my gardening experiences in North Texas. I find it easier to do this via a blog than to keep a notebook. Anyway, feel free to stop by and share any tips you might have. The URL is My Gardening Blog, and I will update it quite often as gardening season gears up.