As one of the UK’s major employers, the oil and gas industry is massively important to the economy. However, with dwindling reserves, changing attitudes to energy production, and the most challenging economic environment in decades, the sector is under pressure. Employment levels in the UK have dropped from over 450,000 in 2014 to less than 300,000 now.
Consequently, hyperbole would call this moment a time of existential threat; more realistically, it is a time when the sector needs to pivot to survive.
Here we explore some of the changing trends that will define the future of the oil and gas industry.
Demand for sustainability
Most would associate the idea of sustainability with renewables, such as solar, wind, and wave. While people assume sustainability is nothing to do with the oil and gas sector, this is a misconception and one dangerous to its survival.
Those companies who are looking to the future are placing sustainability high on their priorities list. Not only is it what the public expects, but cleaner extraction methods, more efficient management of resources, and environmental impact are all essential to a better corporate image. BP has rebranded itself “Beyond Petroleum” as an acceptance that it needs to work to literally clean up its image. Smart oil and gas companies will follow the example set, looking to be part of a green energy production revolution.
An increasing focus on LNG
While fracking continues to be an ongoing debate across the globe, in the UK, the Energy Minister seemed to suggest the discussion was over, and the country was moving on from ideas of using this method of extraction of shale gas.
Instead, thoughts turn ever more to LNG as a lower-carbon product and whose extraction does not have the same environmental impact. In an industry where public opinion matters, pursuing an unpopular policy of fracking might be deemed fruitless.
For those looking for a career in oil and gas, the specter of automation is worthy of consideration. Many parts of the sector are made up of tasks that are repetitive and hazardous. Therefore, there has been a move towards technology that can replace these roles.
While automation has been an ongoing evolution of working practices in the oil and gas sector, the changes have been sluggish. With the problems caused by COVID-19, 2021 could be the year where there is a significant shift in focus.
Therefore, for those looking for a career in this industry, there is more needed for engineering and technical talent than the old manual roles on site.
The need for new talents in the sector is emerging at a time when the workforce is aging. There is not a wealth of new talent coming out of university choosing to join the industry. Consequently, to attract talent, companies are offering larger salaries and impressive benefits. As a result, labour costs are climbing rather than benefiting from reductions thanks to automation.
A return to infrastructure investment
For a time, the oil and gas sector has not seen investment in infrastructure as a priority. While the building of new rigs still isn’t a high priority, the need to upgrade the existing facilities to improve efficiency and reduce operating costs most definitely is. There are financial rewards for those companies seeking to invest and gains in reputation – making it a compelling approach to the rest of 2021.
Ex~i Flow is proud to work with the oil and gas sector, using flow measurement computers to improve efficiency and effectiveness. If you would like to discuss how we could help you, contact us today.