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Oil Companies Face Manpower Risk

Oil and gas companies are suffering a manpower shortage severe enough to expose them to shutdowns, increasing numbers of accidents, production losses and other problems, a workforce management expert contends.

February 28, 2008
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Oil and gas companies are suffering a manpower shortage severe enough to expose them to shutdowns, increasing numbers of accidents, production losses and other problems, a workforce management expert contends.

The oil and gas industry is the hardest hit by a talent shortage, says Mohammed Benayoune, director of Toronto-based consulting firm Achievement Centre International.

“The average age in the industry is 47 years, which is the highest of any industry,” he says.

Speaking in Dubai at Marsh Ltd.’s National Oil Companies Conference, Benayoune says the boom and bust characteristics of the oil and gas industry makes it less appealing than other types of work.

“Also, the reputation of the industry, especially from the environmental side, has not attracted many people into the industry,” he says.

“The consequences are quite significant,” Benayoune says of the worker shortage. Not only are employees appointed to management positions before they are qualified, but the impact of the shortages can put projects at risk and lengthen their time to completion, he adds. “You also have the increased risk of accidents, increased risks of plant shutdowns and loss of production.”

There also is a greater chance that undermanned energy companies will suffer accidents that might endanger the environment, Benayoune says.

The best way to retain workers and make the job attractive to new ones is to improve the quality of managers who work directly with employees, Benayoune advised.

“Have an engaged management that can tap into employees and get them engaged,” he says.

Don’t necessarily choose managers because they perform well at a job, but concentrate on their personal skills as well, Benayoune says.

“Some may be good at dealing with pumps and compressors, but may not be so good when dealing with people.”

Filed by Michael Bradford of Business Insurance, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail editors@workforce.com.

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