Work shortages in the North American energy industry continue to raise concerns. Speaking at the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers’ annual meeting in Texas, a senior vice president of an energy company, Daniel Lumma, said that there will be a major shortage of skilled workers within a decade.
The number of workers in the oil and gas industry in North America today is around 4.5 million. That is down by about 1 million from the mid-2000s, Lumma said. And in another ten years, half of the skilled workers in the industry today will have retired. Because of these shortages, projects like the ones planned in the state of Louisiana, including gas-to-liquids facilities and liquefied natural gas plants will not happen unless the workforce multiplies “five to six times above what it is right now.”
Calling the situation a “very significant demographic issue,” Lumma said that one possible solution would be to get key participants in a project, including contractors, involved at the earliest stages to ensure that there are enough workers available.
A number of new “mega projects” are already planned, including a Dow Chemical plan to build three new petrochemical facilities on the Gulf Coast, in response to the shale oil boom. The $4-billion expansion plans could generate up to 35,000 new jobs. Projects like these could be in jeopardy as a result of the shortage of skilled workers.
Earlier this month, OilCareers.com issued a report titled Global Oil & Workforce Survey, in which it says that skill labour shortages are most acute in the liquefied natural gas and subsea sectors. The report also warns that the shortage of skilled workers is affecting safety in the oil industry. The director of OilCareers.com said that the industry needs to concentrate on developing the workforce “to ensure knowledge is passed on and the required experience is in place to manage the world’s oil and gas reserves.”