I joined Subsurface Global in January 2013, where the oil price was up at $105.4 per barrel. Compared to where things stand today in 2016, the gap is cavernous. At circa $30 a barrel and having read much industry press in regards to how the market may recover over the coming months/years, it could be a long time before we see a real shift back to the buoyancy of a few years ago.

In this article I am going to highlight the changes I have seen in the oil industry from a recruiters’ perspective. During the good times of 2013, through to the middle of 2014, where the market was extremely buoyant and competition was fierce to get the best people into operators. In comparison to now, where, as of the end of 2015, more than 258,000 people globally have lost their jobs.

2013 was an extremely steep learning curve for me. I do not come from a technical background, so getting to grips with the Geoscience market took an awful lot of learning and I certainly had my knocks in the early stages. The goal in 2013 was purely to find the best technical talent. There were plenty of jobs and if you had a candidate who was exceptional, a position could have been created for them to join a company. It was the case that nearly every one of our operator clients was looking for the same thing; a 15-20 year experience, hands-on technical guru, who had their best years ahead of them with so much to offer the industry. These people were a golden commodity. This was because of the down turn in the late 1990’s, where a lot of technical talent was lost from the industry due to redundancies, and the up and coming stars could not find their way into operators because opportunities were so few. Sourcing these candidates became a challenge for companies and in many cases, financially incentivising people became a popular way to get them to move. This in turn drove companies to improve the benefits they offered. We now see the fallout from this, with day rates and salaries reducing. Roles have very much reversed and we now see the power back with the operators. Because of the lack of jobs, individuals have had to lower their expectations and adjust their way of working to secure potential roles.

2016 is very much a different landscape in comparison to 2013. As previously quoted, over 258,000 people have lost their jobs in the oil industry and we at Subsurface Global, across our three disciplines (G&G, Reservoir & Petroleum Engineering and Drilling & HSE), have seen a huge number of highly skilled and experienced people coming to us having been made redundant. If we had this level of candidate available in 2013/14, my job would’ve been far easier! Having an extremely impressive candidate and CV isn’t enough anymore. Relationships are key and we hope that those we have in place will continue to see us through this tough time.

It will be very interesting to see how the industry navigates the road to recovery. It looks like we are in for a bumpy ride…

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