Oil and gas sector faces recruitment and supply chain challenges

2 March 2012

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2 March 2012 | Angeline Albert

A scarcity of talented supply chain managers and drilling resources in the oil and gas industry are among the challenges created by the world “waking up” following the global recession.

This was the view expressed by procurement professionals in the sector at the E&P Procurement & Supply Forum held in London yesterday.

According to Graeme Urquhart, group procurement and supply chain manager at Dana Petroleum: “It’s really hard to get good supply chain people, they seem to be at a real premium right now.” He added resourcing projects are about “casting the net wider” and looking outside the sector.

Buyers attending the event agreed there was a trend across the industry to recruit younger people and develop them. “You can get technical expertise or great supply chain professionals but it’s very rare that you get both. So you develop them in-house,” said Ronaldo Marques, general manager, contracting & procurement at Shell.

Urquhart added: “There has been a real trend of late to take on ex-military people in the oil and gas industry. Many of these people are highly trained individuals. A lot of the skills that we have as procurement professionals are interchangeable and not really sector-specific.”

But increasing levels of activity in the industry as the world recovers from recession have put pressure on capacity in the supply base. Urquhart said many areas of supply are tightening to levels seen prior to the recession.

“Drilling and sub-sea resources are getting tight for 2013 and even for some manufacturing goods such as valves, lead times on these pieces of equipment are definitely stretching out to what they were pre-2008. Last year you could get a fairly large complex valve in about 24 weeks but this has now stretched to 48 weeks.”

Speaking as part of a panel discussion on the topic at the conference, Marques said: “It’s not a question of making plans three to five years before. The challenge is to make 10-year plans.”

Fellow panellists Urquhart and Steve Johnson, head of global procurement and supply chain management at Prosafe, agreed 10 year plans were a challenge since investment in a country and level of risk and cost are affected by potential changes in governments and political decisions such as changes to taxation levels.


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