There has been a surge in the global job market as the pandemic has grudgingly started to loosen its grip on the world economy. In the second of two linked articles, Kay Rieck, an experienced professional oil and gas investor, suggests that despite the challenges that the future holds for the oil and gas sector, it is also going to offer plenty of opportunities for job seekers to enjoy a fascinating career.
There are industries where graduates and other job seekers gravitate. Architecture, artificial intelligence, alternative energy and data science have been the main draw for several years, but from experience I would say that there are many reasons to think about joining the oil and gas sector.
In the first part of this two-part article, I discussed some of the structural reasons that make the sector attractive, and in this second part I will argue that the challenges that the sector is facing and will face over the next few years actually make it a potentially even more interesting place to build a career.
Reducing waste, adding revenueAway from the oil and gas sector, technology has been evolving rapidly over the last few years. This is impacting oil and gas in several ways, but as we discussed in this article [LINK], one of the most interesting developments is the opportunity to turn wasted gas into usable power onsite at and oil and gas extraction project.
Historically, it has often been uneconomic to pipe small pockets of gas to market because the infrastructure that would need to be created would cost more than the value of the natural gas.
The blockchain needs power to run the computer servers that manage its calculations, and there are growing numbers of firms that are creating mobile server set-ups that can be placed on site and powered by previously wasted gas. This creates an additional revenue stream for an exploration and production company and makes use of a previously wasted resource.
The emergence of opportunities such as this highlights the diversity that a career in the oil and gas sector can offer.
The economy is evolving – Kay RieckFor a large proportion of the last century, oil and gas have had a pretty much undisputed position right at the center of the global energy mix. There are some that might suggest that this primacy made some in the sector slightly complacent, and led in turn to the perception that perhaps the industry felt that it didn’t need to be massively careful with the resources that it was extracting.
Whether this is fair or not, change is being forced on the industry by the rise of renewables, which for the first time in a long time means that there is a viable alternative to fossil fuels. Research into other kinds of alternatives, including green hydrogen, is also progressing and has the potential to reduce the reliance on oil and gas.
As I have said several times in this blog, the oil and gas sector has a choice about how it responds to this situation. It could give a collective shrug and accept that it has had its chapter in the humanity’s history books, or it could see this competition as an opportunity to innovate, address the challenges it faces and retains a role in the global energy mix for longer. There will be fatalists, but there will also be plenty of people in the sector that want to innovate and keep the sector moving forward. Innovation is always something that can create an interesting and potentially lucrative career.
There is still, literally, oil in the tank… This brings us to another point I discussed in more detail in this article [LINK] the actual process of moving from an international network of oil and gas is going to take years. Replacing every service station on every autobahn, freeway, or motorway in the world with a structure that allows multiple users to charge electric cars simultaneously so that they can get on their way relatively quickly will come with a significant environmental cost in and of itself.
This does not imply that it can’t be done or that it shouldn’t be done, but it is undoubtably a massive project that is likely to take a long time to achieve if the process is going to avoid causing massive disruption.
Moving beyond the cars to consider the way that homes are heated, the way that shipping and airplanes are powered, it is going to be a long time before fossil fuel stops being an important part of the global energy mix. In short, sector’s global infrastructure gives it a significant advantage even in the more competitive environment that appears to be evolving.
…and any transition will need expertise on both sidesBeyond the fine words of the politicians about decarbonizing the global economy, there is a practical reality that we need to be very certain that we take into account: any transition away from oil and gas is going to be a colossal infrastructure project and like any colossal infrastructure project, there will need to be a firm understanding about what is being replaced.
This means that the oil and gas sector will continue to be an attractive place to work because is going to continue to be relevant for many years to come. It is going to need experts and innovators that can help it work in tandem with emerging power sources and make any transition as efficient as possible.
Kay Rieck: The legacy of a centuryThe final point to make is that there are still parts of the German bureaucracy that rely extensively on fax machines (it’s a long story). There are also a handful of corners of certain industries that still rely on systems that have Windows 3.11 embedded, an operating system that was released in 1993 and stopped being supported in 2001.
Given this, imagine how long there is going to be a global requirement for oil and gas experts, people that understand both how oil and gas technology works in theory and how it works in reality in the many environments where the sector operates. This is an industry that has held a central position in the global economy for around a century, a sector that arguably made the global economy possible, so it is unlikely to disappear overnight.
This being the case, there is likely to be roles available for people with oil and gas experience and expertise for many years to come.
This article was not written to be part of a recruitment drive for the oil and gas industry, but it is important for the sector to continue to attract a high calibre workforce and while some of the criticism that it has come in for has some justification, it still has a key role in the global economy which is going to rely on its comprehensive infrastructure for many years to come. Ultimately, oil and gas is a fascinating sector to spend a career in.
This is the second part of a two-part article. If you would like to read the first part, please follow this link
About the author
Kay Rieck has been active on the investment side of the oil and gas sector for more than two decades. Starting his career as a financial adviser and stockbroker on the New York Stock Exchange, he quickly developed an interest in natural resources and associated assets building his expertise with investment banking and asset management roles at the New York Board of Trade and the Chicago Board of Trade. Utilising his exceptional network of global contacts, he started his first exploration and production company in the US in 2008, selecting investments across the Haynesville Shale, Permian basin, Eagle Ford shale, Dimmit county and elsewhere that offered exceptional prospective returns.