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What does the future hold for oil and gas contractors?


In the ever-evolving oil and gas industry, contract workers play a vital role. These oil and gas contractors bring specialised skills, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness to projects, enabling companies to navigate complex operations with agility.

COVID-19 profoundly impacted the working landscape for oil and gas contractors, causing disruptions, job losses, and changes in priorities. However, as the industry recovers, shifting its focus towards sustainable practices and embracing the energy transition, oil and gas contractors must also adapt and seize emerging opportunities.

Let’s explore the challenges faced by oil and gas contractors in an evolving industry and the best places for them to find work. We will also discuss the role of recruiters in assisting contractors.

Let’s delve into what the future looks like for oil and gas contractors and discover how they can thrive in this dynamic industry.

What is a contract worker?

A contract worker, also known as a freelance worker or independent contractor, is an individual who provides services to a company or organisation on a contractual basis. Unlike traditional employees, contract workers are not directly employed by the company. They operate independently or through an intermediary agency, like a recruitment agency.

Contract workers are engaged for a specific project, a set period of time, or to fulfil a particular role within an organisation. They are typically hired to bring specialised skills, expertise, or additional resources to a project, addressing temporary staffing needs.

One key aspect of contract work is the absence of a long-term relationship between the contractor and the company they work for. Instead, the terms and conditions of the working arrangement are outlined in a contract or agreement.

This contract specifies the scope of work, project duration, payment terms, and any other relevant details. The contract worker is responsible for fulfilling the agreed-upon deliverables within the specified timeframe.

Contract workers enjoy certain advantages and flexibility compared to traditional employees. They have greater control over their work schedule, the projects they choose to undertake, and their overall career path. Contractors can work on diverse projects, gain exposure to different industries and companies, and build a portfolio of experiences.

The role of oil and gas contractors in the energy industry

Oil and gas contractors form an essential part of the industry’s workforce. They bring unique knowledge, flexibility, and efficiency to projects, enabling oil and gas companies to tackle diverse and complex operations with agility.

According to the International Labour Organisation, the number of oil and gas contractors is on the rise. This growth can be attributed to various factors, including cost optimisation strategies, the need for specific expertise, and the flexibility offered by contract work. In fact, industry studies suggest that contractors make up a significant portion of the oil and gas workforce. In the UK, oil and gas contractors make up 20% of the sectors workforce, but this can increase to 50% depending on the region.

Oil and gas contractors bring numerous benefits to the industry. Contractors limit costs for companies, as they eliminate expenses associated with permanent employment such as onboarding, benefits, pensions, and training.

Additionally, contractors often possess niche expertise and experience in specific areas of the industry, allowing companies to tap into their specialised knowledge.


The landscape of oil and gas after Covid-19

The COVID-19 pandemic profoundly impacted the global economy, and the oil and gas industry was not immune to its effects. As a result, the industry experienced unprecedented disruptions, including a sharp decline in oil demand, supply chain disruptions, and travel restrictions.

These factors, coupled with volatile oil prices and concerns about health and safety, significantly impacted the working landscape for oil and gas contractors.

Let’s explore the specific changes brought about by the pandemic and their lasting effects.

1. Decreased oil demand and project delays

The pandemic resulted in a substantial reduction in global oil demand. At the same time, lockdown measures and travel restrictions led to reduced transportation activities and economic slowdown. This drop in demand resulted in project delays, cancellations, and downsizing by oil and gas companies.

As a result, many contractors faced a decrease in job opportunities and a challenging job market.

2. Cost reduction measures

To mitigate the financial impact, oil and gas companies were compelled to implement various cost-reduction measures and workforce adjustments. These measures aimed to streamline operations, conserve cash flow, and ensure the long-term sustainability of businesses. Unfortunately, these actions directly impacted oil and gas contractors, leading to significant changes in their working landscape.

Oil and gas companies, facing reduced revenues and uncertain market conditions, scrutinised their budgets and sought ways to optimise costs. One of the immediate steps taken was a reduction in contractor budgets. Companies reviewed existing oil and gas contracts and engaged in renegotiations to achieve more favourable terms. This often involved seeking cost reductions, adjusting payment terms, or revising project scopes. As a result, contractors experienced financial implications, with some facing lower pay rates or extended payment terms.

3. Workforce adjustments

With project delays and cancellations becoming more prevalent, the demand for new contractors decreased, and companies had to make difficult decisions regarding their workforce. Being a flexible resource, contractors were often among the first to face contract terminations or non-renewals. This led to a sense of uncertainty and instability within the contractor community, as individuals had to reassess their career paths and seek alternative opportunities.

Increased competition among oil and gas contractors for available projects made it more challenging to secure new work opportunities. Contractors had to navigate a more competitive landscape where their experience, expertise, and track record became critical factors in distinguishing themselves.

The workforce adjustments also prompted oil and gas contractors to reconsider their approach and adapt to the new market conditions, diversifying their skill sets and exploring opportunities in related sectors or emerging industries. Others focused on upskilling or acquiring new certifications to enhance their marketability.

As the industry has begun to recover, contractors continue to play an essential role in the oil and gas sector. Those who successfully weathered the challenges of the pandemic and embraced the lessons learned are well-positioned to contribute to the industry’s resurgence.

4. Shift in priorities and emphasis on operational efficiency

The pandemic prompted oil and gas companies to re-evaluate their priorities and place a renewed emphasis on operational efficiency. In the face of market uncertainty and economic challenges, companies recognised the need to streamline operations, optimise costs, and enhance productivity.

This shift in priorities created new opportunities for contractors with expertise in process optimisation, digitalisation, and automation, as their skills became increasingly valuable in supporting these efficiency-driven initiatives.

Contractors with expertise in process optimisation played a pivotal role in this transformation. By analysing workflows, identifying bottlenecks, and implementing streamlined procedures, they helped oil and gas companies optimise their operations.

5. Acceleration of digital transformation

Increased optimisation created a greater need to accelerate digital transformation within the oil and gas industry. Companies recognised the importance of leveraging technology to drive operational efficiency and facilitate remote working capabilities. As a result, this drove higher demand for oil and gas contractors with expertise in digitalisation and automation.

Contractors skilled in digital technologies such as data analytics, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things (IoT), became increasingly valuable in helping companies harness the power of data, automate processes, and make data-driven decisions.

For companies striving to adapt to the evolving landscape, this ability to integrate digital solutions into existing operations and leverage technology for efficiency gains positioned contractors as valuable assets.

6. Adoption of automation

Automation technologies, such as robotics and autonomous systems, have also become increasingly prevalent in the oil and gas industry, enabling companies to streamline repetitive tasks, improve safety, and reduce human error. Oil and gas contractors skilled in deploying and maintaining these automation solutions continue to be in high demand.

7. Emphasis on sustainability and energy transition

COVID-19 highlighted the urgent need for a more sustainable and resilient energy future. Governments and companies worldwide recognised the importance of addressing climate change and committed to green recovery plans, prioritising renewable energy investments and decarbonisation efforts.

This significant shift in focus created new opportunities for oil and gas contractors with expertise in renewable energy, energy transition strategies, and sustainability practices.

Governments and policymakers all over the world that understand the long-term risks associated with climate change have placed greater emphasis on transitioning to renewable energy sources. Implementing policies and incentives to accelerate the adoption of clean energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions has created a surge in renewable energy projects and investments, ranging from solar and wind power to geothermal and hydroelectricity.

This transition has presented oil and gas contractors with an opportunity to diversify their skill sets and align with the industry’s sustainability goals. Oil and gas contract workers with expertise in renewable energy technologies are in high demand, and will play a crucial role in supporting the development, construction, and maintenance of future energy projects.

The energy transition has sparked a growing need for contractors who specialise in energy transition strategies. Companies are seeking professionals who can guide them through the complexities of shifting from fossil fuel-based energy systems to cleaner alternatives.

Sustainability practices have also become integral to the operations of oil and gas companies. There is a greater emphasis on minimising environmental impacts, improving resource efficiency, and implementing circular economy principles.

Oil and gas contractors with expertise in sustainable practices, such as environmental management systems, waste reduction, and carbon footprint assessment are valued for their ability to assist organisations in achieving their sustainability goals.

The shift towards sustainability and energy transition has reshaped the working landscape for oil and gas contractors. It has underscored the importance of adaptability and the need to upskill in emerging technologies. Oil and gas contractors who can pivot their expertise to meet the changing demands of the industry are better positioned to thrive in this evolving landscape.

Embracing digital skills and leveraging technologies like data analytics, artificial intelligence, and remote monitoring will also give contract workers an advantage over their peers.


Promising areas of work for oil and gas contractors

Emerging markets and regions with significant oil and gas activities

As an oil and gas contractor, exploring emerging markets and regions with substantial oil and gas activities can provide promising work opportunities. These areas often experience increased investment, infrastructure development, and a growing demand for skilled professionals.

For instance, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), emerging markets such as India, Southeast Asia, Africa and the Middle East are expected to drive future energy demand growth.

These regions have a strong appetite for energy resources and are investing in exploration, production, and refining capacities to meet their growing needs. As a result, they offer numerous opportunities for oil and gas contractors to contribute their expertise and services.

Overview of regions experiencing growth in the industry

Several regions worldwide are experiencing significant growth in the oil and gas industry, presenting favourable prospects for oil and gas contractors seeking work. One such region is the Middle East, known for its abundant oil reserves and ongoing investment in oil and gas projects.

Countries like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar are continuously developing their energy sectors, creating opportunities for oil and gas contractors in various disciplines.

Potential opportunities in offshore drilling, shale gas, and renewable energy sectors

Specific sectors offer promising opportunities for oil and gas contractors. Offshore drilling, for example, continues to be a significant area of focus, with offshore reserves representing a substantial portion of the world’s oil and gas resources. Contractors with expertise in offshore operations, subsea engineering, and marine logistics can find abundant opportunities in this sector.

The shale gas industry has also gained prominence, particularly in regions such as the United States, Canada, and Argentina. Shale gas extraction involves specialised techniques, and advancements in technologies like hydraulic fracturing have led to a boom in the industry. Oil and gas contractors experienced in shale gas drilling, hydraulic fracturing, and reservoir engineering are in high demand.

As the energy transition to renewables gains momentum, there are increasing opportunities for oil and gas contractors. Wind and solar energy projects, in particular, are witnessing significant growth globally.

Oil and gas contractors with knowledge of renewable energy technologies, such as wind turbine installation, solar panel maintenance, and energy storage systems can contribute to the expansion of clean energy infrastructure.

Offshore oil and gas construction platform

Relocating for work: What contractors should consider before moving

When selecting a location for contracting work in the oil and gas industry, several factors should be taken into consideration.

1. Market potential and growth prospects. Assess investment levels, exploration activities, and the presence of industry leaders in the region.

2. Regulatory environment and stability. Look for countries with favourable laws, transparent business practices, and political stability.

3. Infrastructure and support services. Consider transportation networks, accommodation options, and access to essential resources.

4. Local labour market and demand for skills. Research the workforce landscape to identify areas where services are in high demand and where unique value can be offered.

By staying informed about emerging markets, growing regions, and sectors aligned with the energy transition, oil and gas contractors can position themselves for success and take advantage of promising work opportunities in the industry.

The role of recruiters in assisting oil and gas contractors

The benefits of working with oil and gas recruiters

Partnering with an energy recruiter can offer significant benefits to oil and gas contractors. These recruiters possess in-depth knowledge of the sector, its dynamics, and the specific skills required for various projects. By leveraging their expertise, contractors can access a range of advantages.

Recruiters have extensive networks and connections within their specialised industry. They maintain relationships with major companies, project managers, and operators, enabling them to identify suitable work opportunities and clients for contractors. This network provides oil and gas contractors with access to a wider pool of job opportunities that may not be publicly advertised.

Working with oil and gas recruiting agents also streamlines the job search process. Recruiters act as intermediaries between contractors and employers, matching the right talent with the right projects. They can save job seekers valuable time and effort by pre-screening job openings, verifying project details, and ensuring compatibility between the contractors’ skills and project requirements.

How recruiters stay updated on market trends and job opportunities

Recruiters in the oil and gas industry actively stay informed about market trends and job opportunities to better assist contractors. They continually monitor industry publications and news outlets for the latest developments, project announcements, and hiring trends.

Furthermore, recruiters maintain relationships with industry professionals, attend conferences, and participate in networking events. These activities enable them to stay connected and gather insights on emerging projects, upcoming demand for specific skills, and changes in the industry landscape. By staying updated, recruiters can provide oil and gas contractors with accurate and timely information about potential job openings.

Ways recruiters can help contractors find suitable projects and clients

Energy recruiters play a vital role in helping oil and gas contractors find work. They take the time to understand contractors’ skills, experience, and career aspirations, to match contractors with projects that align with their expertise and goals.

Recruitment specialists also provide guidance and support to candidates throughout the hiring process. They assist in preparing professional resumes, optimising online profiles, and honing interview skills. They present oil and gas contractors who meet the requirements of their clients in the best possible light, increasing their potential for success.

Often, recruiters have access to exclusive job openings that are not publicly available. They leverage their industry connections to uncover hidden opportunities and present oil and gas contractors with a competitive advantage. Their expertise in negotiating contract terms and ensuring fair compensation further adds value for contractors.

Tips for establishing and maintaining relationships with recruiters

Establishing and maintaining strong relationships with recruiters can enhance a contractor’s chances of securing a desirable role in the oil and gas industry. Here are some valuable tips for building successful relationships:

1. Be proactive. Reach out to recruiters proactively, expressing your interest in working with them. Keep them updated about your skills, availability, and career goals.

2. Build rapport. Establish a professional connection with recruiters by demonstrating your industry knowledge, reliability, and commitment. Treat every interaction as an opportunity to showcase your expertise and professionalism.

3. Maintain communication. Stay in regular contact with recruiters, providing updates on your availability and any changes in your skills or qualifications. This ensures that they have the most up-to-date information and helps keep you front of mind when suitable roles become available.

4. Provide feedback. Providing feedback about your experience helps recruiters better understand your preferences and requirements, leading to improved job matches in the future.

5. Cultivate long-term relationships. Building long-term relationships with recruiters can lead to recurring opportunities and a deeper understanding of your career trajectory. Treat recruiters as trusted partners who can support your professional growth in the industry.

By effectively leveraging the expertise and network of specialised recruiters, oil and gas contractors can navigate the industry landscape more efficiently and access a broader range of rewarding projects and clients.

Navigating the future as an oil and gas contractor

Importance of continuous learning and upskilling

As with any evolving industry, the importance of continuous learning and upskilling cannot be overstated for oil and gas contractors. Technology advances and market dynamics change, meaning that contractors must stay updated on the latest industry trends, regulations, and technological advancements.

Investing in professional development and acquiring new skills equips oil and gas contractors with a competitive edge. By expanding their knowledge base and acquiring new certifications, oil and gas contractors can demonstrate their commitment to professional growth and remain relevant in the industry.

Adapting to new technologies and industry trends

Adapting to new technologies and industry trends is vital for oil and gas contractors to thrive in the future. The industry is experiencing rapid advancements in digitalisation, automation, and data analytics, transforming how projects are executed and managed.

Contractors who embrace these technologies and acquire relevant digital skills will have a competitive market advantage. For instance, using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning in reservoir modelling and predictive maintenance is becoming increasingly prevalent. Oil and gas contractors who can leverage these technologies to optimise operations and enhance efficiency will be highly sought after.

Staying informed about industry trends is equally crucial. Monitoring market shifts, regulatory changes, and the growing emphasis on sustainability allows oil and gas contractors to align their expertise with emerging opportunities and industry demands.

Strategies for networking and building professional connections

Networking and building professional connections can go a long way to ensuring success for oil and gas contractors. Engaging with industry professionals, attending conferences, and joining professional organisations provide opportunities to expand one’s network and access a broader pool of potential clients and projects.

Online platforms, such as LinkedIn, offer valuable networking channels for contractors. By actively participating in industry discussions, sharing knowledge, and showcasing expertise, oil and gas contractors can enhance their visibility and build relationships with industry stakeholders.

Mentorship programs and industry events also offer avenues for networking and mentorship opportunities. Connecting with other experienced oil and gas professionals can provide valuable guidance and insights, opening doors to new career prospects and collaborations.

Ensuring financial stability and managing contract-to-contract transitions

Managing financial stability and navigating the transitions between contracts are crucial aspects of a contractor’s career. Due to the project-based nature of the industry, contractors often experience periods of contract-to-contract transitions, which can bring uncertainty and financial challenges.

Creating a financial plan and maintaining a financial buffer can help oil and gas contractors weather these transitions. Saving during periods of consistent work and managing expenses prudently contribute to financial stability. Considering contract duration, payment terms, and project risks when evaluating opportunities can also help mitigate financial uncertainties.

Furthermore, building long-term relationships with clients and maintaining a strong professional reputation can lead to repeat business and referrals, providing a more sustainable income stream.

By prioritising continuous learning, embracing new technologies, building professional networks, and managing finances strategically, oil and gas contractors can navigate the future with confidence and seize the opportunities presented by the evolving industry landscape.

construction team handshake

Looking towards the future

The future for oil and gas contractors is dynamic and evolving. Despite the challenges brought about by COVID-19, contractors who demonstrated adaptability and embraced emerging trends found opportunities for growth.

The shift towards sustainability, operational efficiency, and digitalisation has opened new doors for contractors with expertise in renewable energy, process optimisation, and digital technologies. Exploring emerging markets, regions experiencing industry growth, and specific sectors like offshore drilling and shale gas can lead to promising opportunities.

Partnering with oil and gas recruiters with extensive industry knowledge and networks can also provide valuable support in navigating the evolving landscape and accessing job opportunities.

Overall, oil and gas contractors who stay agile, upskill in relevant areas and stay informed about market trends are well-positioned to contribute to the industry’s resurgence and ultimate success.

Find your next oil and gas contract role

Finding your next oil and gas contract job requires more than networking and applying for jobs online. You need a recruitment agency that will offer you support and job advice while connecting you to the best roles in the industry as they become available. The team at Energy Resourcing can do just that.

Apply to our current open roles that interest you, and reach out to our team so we can keep you top of mind when new oil and gas contract roles come in.

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