Is Oil and Gas Production Still a Good Career Path (Oil Price Fluctuation)?

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Written By Chinyere Akalugwu

 

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Choosing a career can require a lot of consideration especially if you are fresh out of college and looking to land that great job. A number of industries offer rewarding career prospects and you may be wondering if choosing one of them may be right or wrong. If you are in the field of oil and gas production and wondering if a career in the industry is rewarding then this article is for you.  

Global consumption of oil has experienced a steady increase over the years. Statista reports that world consumption lies at 4,25 million metric tonnes as of 2021 and is expected to rise further in 2022. In the same vein, global production has also experienced an increase with global production reaching 4.2 billion metric tonnes; a significant increase in production from previous years.

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This is an indication that the oil and gas industry is a thriving sector with attractive prospects for budding career hopefuls however, the industry has in recent times witnessed higher price volatility.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration states that low responsiveness and inelasticity of oil demand and supply could be one of the major reasons for price fluctuations. Hence, it may leave one wondering if oil and gas production is still a good career path. Keep reading to find out. 

Similar: Is Business Services a Good Career Path

What is oil and gas production?

Oil and gas production is the process of extracting oil and gas out of wells, storing it in tanks and converting it to final products that can be used by consumers. These products are transported to different places for use. 

To extract oil and gas, three major processes are involved. These processes are upstream, midstream and downstream. The upstream process involves the exploration, drilling and extraction of crude products. In the midstream section, the products undergo processing, storing and transportation. The final process involves the refining and distribution of the products.

The oil and gas industry is one of the largest in the world and plays a major role in the global economy being the major fuel source in the world today. 

Oil and gas production plant

Advantages of working in the Oil and Gas production sector

1. Financial Prosperity

Workers in the oil and gas sector receive significantly decent wages due to a range of factors. These factors include skill shortages, educational qualifications and the technical demands of jobs in the sector.

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2. Various opportunities

The oil and gas sector has diverse opportunities that offer unique challenges and growth opportunities. Based on your skills and preferred workplace, there are various career paths to choose from either at the upstream, midstream or downstream level. 

Jobs in Oil and gas also offer opportunities for career growth as you progress. You not only gain more experience but also get higher salaries. 

3. Job flexibility

You have the chance of working in various geographical locations when you work in oil and gas companies. This is particularly fun for people who enjoy traveling. 

4. Fewer distractions

Most jobs in the oil and gas industry require that you have a keen eye for detail and work in a specific environment. For example, you may need to work in specific oil/gas producing regions or on offshore rigs. This gives you room to concentrate as you’ll have fewer distractions while you work.  

5. Use of new technologies

In the past, jobs in the oil sector were very tasking as they involved the use of heavy machinery and long working hours. With the advent of the internet and improved technologies, many tasks have become a bit easier due to the use of modern technologies. 

Artificial intelligence technologies such as the internet of things are now being programmed to ensure effective monitoring of oil rigs, communication and data storage. Drones also help to give better visuals of wells and storage areas. 

Disadvantages of working in the oil and gas production sector.

1. Price volatility

Oil prices are considered highly unstable. This could be a result of a number of factors such as supply and demand shock, effects of natural disasters, decisions made by producers and production costs. 

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The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), independent oil-producing states and oil-producing firms are responsible for making decisions concerning output. These decisions made by these parties are contributory factors in oil price volatility.

Price volatility.
Chart showing oil price fluctuation in the last decade. Sourced from OPEC.

2. High risk 

Most careers in oil and gas are high-risk jobs. They not only pose dangerous hazards that could be fatal but also have political and market risks. 

Oil exploration has moved from easy areas to more hard-to-reach areas such as the middle of the ocean. Of course, this can be life-threatening for workers and enhance health issues such as sea sickness. 

Oil and gas also face the risk of demand and supply shock when there are unexpected changes in either the demand or the supply of oil products leading to economic effects. 

3. Unfavourable living conditions

Having a career in the oil and gas sector especially when you work on the rig could mean that you’ll have to live away from the comfort of your home. You may have to live in hotels sometimes in remote areas with very little civilisation.

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This can be depressing for many who have to stay away from their families and friends. You may also need to adjust to a new lifestyle and feeding patterns that may not go very well with your health. 

4. Uncertainties of the future. 

With the increasing popularity of more sustainable energy forms, it is difficult to tell where the future of this industry lies.   

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The future of the oil and gas production industry

1. Hydraulic fracturing

Hydraulic fracturing in oil and gas production.

According to the Independent Petroleum Association of America, fracturing is the use of high pressured liquid in creating small rock fractures in oil wells that stimulate the production of raw materials after drilling.

This practice has faced a lot of controversies in recent years. Environmental specialists argue that the practice has devastating effects on the environment which has led to its ban in some countries. 

In 2019, the Fracking Ban Act bill was introduced by the U.S congress. The bill seeks to ban fracturing practices by 2025 due to their negative impacts on the environment and health of people. 

A ban on fracturing could have devastating effects on the economy of a country. The U.S. Department of Energy following a report from the United States Chamber of commerce states that about 19 million jobs could be lost directly and indirectly if fracturing is halted. The price of oil could also double leading to economic consequences with Texas being the most hit.

2. Shift to sustainable energy forms

The oil and gas industry has had several impacts on the environment. From drilling to flaring and the pollutants released when drill cutting, the oil and gas industry isn’t one of the most environmentally savvy sectors.

With the increasing popularity of environmental sustainability, more sustainable practices and energy forms are being encouraged. This has given rise to more sustainable energy forms like hydro energy, nuclear energy, wind energy and solar energy which reduces the use of oil and gas.

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To deal with this consequence, oil and gas companies have also begun to adopt cleaner practices. To achieve this, they have adopted renewable energy forms, improved freshwater use and recycling of unused oil instead of dumping it.

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3. Uncertainties of demand

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Based on predictions by OPEC, the future of the oil and gas industry appears to be bright however, there are fears concerning the uncertainties that could be faced on the side of demand.

The industry has in the past, focused on ensuring security from the side of supply. With the shift from fossil fuels, it remains unclear what the demand for oil and gas could be in the long-term future.   

Is oil and gas production still a good career choice?

Presently, a career in oil and gas is certainly a good choice. Based on the advantages highlighted in this article, there’s a lot to enjoy while working in the sector including the prospect of growth and an attractive salary.   

Alternatively, looking at the future of the sector, no one knows for sure what will become of the industry in the coming decades. 

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If you have a passion for this field, make the best out of it and pursue a career while the industry still booms. It may take a while before it experiences a collapse; if it ever will. 

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6 Job opportunities in oil and gas production

Now that you have decided to pursue a career in the oil and gas sector, there are a number of high-paying jobs that you can explore.  Here are 6 job opportunities in the industry.

1. Geologist

This is one who studies the gaseous matter, liquid or solids that constitute the earth. In the oil and gas industry, they are responsible for identifying and planning new well locations through the study of rock formations and mineral samples in the exploration of oil or gas.

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Geologists could specialise in geophysics, geochemistry, hydrogeology and a host of many areas. In the US, geologists earn an average salary of $83,680 annually according to the U.S Bureau of Labour Statistics. 

2. Petroleum engineer

Just as the geologist identifies potential oil wells, a petroleum engineer is responsible for designing and developing extraction methods. This is one of the upstream career options that require specific educational qualifications and skills.

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Petroleum engineers earn about $130,850 per year.  

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3. Gas engineer

A gas engineer performs the same function as a petroleum engineer. The only difference is that a gas engineer designs extraction methods for gas while a petroleum engineer designs extraction methods for liquid (oil). 

4. Drilling Engineer

The planning, development and supervision of drilling operations are carried out by drilling engineers. These crops of workers specifically function on the rig and might take longer hours since their presence is mostly required for jobs to be fulfilled.

5. Oil/gas field worker

Field workers help with drilling and production.

Oil/gas field workers carry out the task of drilling, extraction and production. They are responsible for operating and maintaining machinery, cleaning up spills and installing new pipelines for new or existing wells.  

6. Hydrographic surveyors. 

Modern technology is used by hydrographers, also known as hydrographic surveyors, to create detailed maps of seabeds, harbours, and waterways. The job involves measuring and mapping underwater surfaces as well as researching the depth, curves, and structure of the ocean floor.

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There are other positions that exist in the industry but are not specifically related to the industry. This includes accountants, marketers, drivers, salespeople, etc. These jobs can also offer exciting opportunities and can be the ultimate career path for you. 

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Tips to start a career in oil and gas production

1. Get the right education and certificate

The oil and gas production sector requires specialised skills that can only be gotten through specialised education and qualification. If you plan on starting a career in oil and gas, ensure that you acquire a degree in the specific field that you will like to work in.  

A bachelor’s degree is mostly sufficient however, getting a postgraduate could be beneficial for you. Non-professional areas like driving may require only a high school diploma and a driver’s license. 

2. Get some experience

You can gain experience from volunteering or co-op jobs where you can learn as a student. This helps you better adapt when you start a career.

3. Start applying

Jobs won’t look for you; except you are a sought-after pro. Before you get to that level, you have to build a great profile by working in one or more jobs and gaining extensive experience. 

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You can start by applying on websites career pages, online career sites or by physically visiting companies and networking. 

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Final words

A career in oil and gas production can provide you with a variety of chances for career advancement and financial success. Just make sure you are ready and equipped for the technical requirements of the job.

Though possibilities and challenges in the future may change, for the time being, do not be scared to make the courageous move necessary to realize your dreams.

Also read: Top 7 Oil Companies in the US


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