Aussie oil and gas workers top global pay scale

AUSTRALIA pays the second highest average salary for oil and gas workers in the world, according to recent industry research. Surveying more than 14,000 respondents from 53 countries across 24 discipline areas in the oil and gas industry, The Oil & Gas Global Salary Guide 2012, compiled by Hays Oil & Gas and Oil and Gas Job Search, recorded the nation as paying an average annual salary of US$164,000 to local workers and US$173,100 to imported workers.

These salary averages were beaten only by Norway, which paid US$180,300 per year to its local staff, and Papua New Guinea, paying on average about US$189,900 per year for imported oil and gas workers. In addition, the guide showed a sharp rise in permanent staff as a percentage of the overall workforce.

“There has been a distinct move to employ permanent staff rather than contractors for many oil companies, demonstrating a confidence amongst employers in hiring new staff to cover workloads,” Oil and Gas Job Search managing director Duncan Freer said in a media release.

“This is not to say that contractor demand is falling; with a multitude of new projects coming on line through the year, rates in this sector of the industry are still rising.” The guide showed that employer confidence had increased by 9.7 per cent on 2011 results, with 26.7 per cent of employers feeling “extremely positive” about the current market. Three quarters of all employers also expected staffing levels to rise during the next 12 months.

“This level of confi dence has far surpassed that which we have seen over the last few years, and contrasts significantly with the wider economic outlook,” Hays Oil & Gas managing director Matt Underhill said in a statement. “With confidence comes salary increases and this is refl ected with an increase in the average worldwide salary for professionals and skilled employees in the industry to US$80,458 per annum (equivalent), up 6.1 per cent in the past 12 months.”

However, it should be noted that the guide used data that was collected in September and October last year – prior to any impacts which would have been felt as a result of Europe’s economic situation.

“Over a quarter of those surveyed expected an increase in staffi ng levels by 10 per cent or more… As 2011 came to a close, it is this confidence that is most at risk from depressed sentiment engulfing the media,” the guide stated.

“The impact of this sentiment has been felt already with some recruitment markets softening in the last few months of 2011, and day rates struggling to maintain previous levels,” Mr Underhill and Mr Freer said in the foreword of the guide.

Regardless of Europe’s debt crisis, Mr Underhill said the oil and gas industry still carried its own concerns. “Skill shortages have become the most significant of these [concerns], and economic and political instability also remain prominent,” he said.
The guide projected that this skills shortage would drive industry salaries higher.

“Those regions experiencing skills shortages are most prone to hikes in contractor rates and it is no coincidence that both Australia and Brazil have seen the highest increases since last year,” the guide stated. It listed drilling and subsea engineering roles as industry ‘hotspots’ and added that demand for onshore drilling of unconventional sources was at an all time high. Pay rises were also strong for rigs utilising offshore labour, reservoir/petroleum engineers and positions in geosciences, production management and logistics. In contrast, environmental issues were becoming less of a focus for the industry, representing only 13.3 per cent of employers’ concerns in the market. Safety issues were even less prominent in the guide this year, representing 10.1 per cent of the overall sample.
“We can only assume, as time passes by so does the memory of the oil spill in the Gulf [of Mexico], and the issues surrounding the cause of that event attract less attention,” the guide reported.
Mr Underhill and Mr Freer said in the foreword that the 2011 trend for increased remuneration was driven by a buoyant oil price, with many countries seeking to explore for, or extract, the energy resources they needed to advance their own economies. “Whilst South America and Asia Pacific continued to lead the way in new investment, two of the traditional power houses of the industry, the North Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, also came back on line in terms of hiring,” Mr Underhill and Mr Freer said. “Brazil, China and Iraq are rising stars that have seen signifi cant salary hikes, driven by huge local investment giving rise to some very exciting and bold projects,” Mr Underhill added in the media statement. According to the guide, the number of people working overseas in oil and gasprojects has been steadily increasing since 2009. The Australian market in particular had seen the number of imported workers rise while nationals were also returning.


By Danica Newnham

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