Arab firms must drill deep to tap own oil experts
A chronic talent shortage in the Middle East’s vitally important oil and gas sector could lead to considerable revenue losses and the scenario of wells remaining untapped.
That’s the worrying message from a report released by finance giants Deloitte yesterday - which warns oil and gas chiefs in the region are growing increasingly frantic about the dearth of young talent in the multi-billion dollar sector.
Execs claim too many experts in senior positions are retiring, too many mid-career workers are leaving the industry - and there’s a “critical” shortage of eager, young science, engineering and technical graduates coming in to the oil and gas sector.
And according to Kenneth McKellar, the Energy and Resources leader at Deloitte in the Middle East, that needs to stop. Now. “The average age of an employee in the industry is around 50 years old,” said McKellar. “There needs to be a heavy investment in new graduates, to train people in science, engineering and technical backgrounds, and equip them with essential skills for the oil and gas industry.”
Asked what the dangers were if the talent shortage was not addressed in the Middle East, he said: “The danger is that you will not get the oil and gas out of the ground.”
McKellar added: “Should this talent shortage not be addressed, we will most probably be unable to exploit a lot of the reserves that are already there. “A lot of the Middle East oil and gas reserves are mature, and they need a higher degree of expertise to remove the oil and gas. “Therefore, the great danger is that we will not be able to get it out of the ground and that will mean less revenues for Middle Eastern countries.”
Concerned executives believe a brain drain exists in many fields but a whopping 81 percent of the 376 surveyed labelled a lack of operations specialists - those responsible for getting the products out of the ground - as their biggest talent gap worry.
Shortages are also prevalent in IT, risk and regulatory and research and development posts. McKellar says that the oil and gas sector is “fundamental” to the Middle East. “It generates vast revenues,” he added. “By not properly exploiting this industry, many socio-economic opportunities will be lost in the Middle East,” the energy man concluded.