In a world where employment is easily handed to the younger working class-men, the oil field industry is surprisingly hunted by its influx of younger workers and a retirement of experienced oil field workers. How does this “great crew change” become a problem for the oil industry?
First, there’s the “more to do yet there are less capable of doing “ equation. Two years ago, eleven men were killed as oil went spewing into the Gulf of Mexico. Investigations point to several errors, one of which is an ignored key test by the managers. Careful study revealed that at the time of the accident, the rig had a reorganization of its personnel, and although the new leaders boast years of experience, they were novice to the their positions.
Schlumberger Business Consulting reveals that in 2015, a total of 22,000 experienced engineers and geoscientists are expected to leave the field. Co-author of Fire on Horizon: The Untold Story of the Gulf Oil Disasterand former drill ship captain John Konrad succinctly puts it: “It only takes a year to build a billion-dollar ship. But it takes 10, 20, 30 years to build a billion-dollar captain who’s going to navigate and command the ship.”
Second is the filling of age gap. The 80’s showed a shift in demography of the oil industry as crude prices plummeted to its all-time low. Reaping the result 30 years later, the industry has seen a huge age gap in staffing. Mechanical engineers in the oil and gas industry have been shifting to teaching, hoping that their decade-worth of expertise can be translated in classroom teaching in a matter of months. As Lone Star instructor, George King puts it, “A significant amount of technology, expertise, and knowledge-know-how—is leaving the industry.”
Will classroom trainings suffice? How soon will this be utilized? The questions remain to be seen.
Third are the safety concerns as we see a shift from an experienced manpower to amateur workforce. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is happy to present a narrowing of trend for injury accidents in the oil industry. Incentives are flagged to ensure that this continues. As seen by how business operations are affected by accidents, safety messages are sent in the event that something happens.
Last is the lenient training guidelines. To address this issue, International Association of Drilling Contractors provide more stringent and extensive safety briefings and ample training programs. While companies have voluntarily provided guidelines to adequately train their workers, federal regulators tightened them up to make said guidelines mandatory. Vice president for accreditation and certification of IADC Mark Denkowski promises that no person will just be hired and set to sail without proper orientation and training.
It has taken a Deep water Horizon disaster to make the oil industry wary of its future. It is indeed doubling its effort in ensuring safety, but the real test lies ahead — The taking over of new generation as a huge number of experienced workers get ready to retire.