Energy survey reveals shifting mix, workforce transformation and lagging recovery

RP news wires
Tags: energy management

Maxwell Drummond, a global retained executive search firm that caters to the energy and natural resources sector, has completed its annual worldwide trends survey of energy company executives with results that reveal an industry focus on strengthening the workforce, preparing for economic recovery and developing unconventional resources.

“Our annual survey aims to tap the minds of leading energy executives from around the world, and in a sense, to find out what keeps them up at night,” said Jamie Ferguson, vice president, Maxwell Drummond. “This year is no exception and our findings reveal a few surprises, most notably that companies with revenues less than $500 million believe economic recovery to be at least 12 months away, while companies with revenues between $5 billion and $10 billion believe recovery to be three to six months away.”

Overall, respondents agree the economic recovery has been slower than expected but are taking advantage of the recession by improving their workforce and bolstering intellectual capital especially in the areas of operations, reservoir engineering, subsea, and sustainable extraction techniques. While many energy industry executives believe full recovery to be at least six months away, addressing the “big crew change” remains top of mind with almost 90 percent of respondents indicating their companies are actively investing in employee skills training and new talent acquisition to offset an ageing and rapidly retiring workforce.

Findings also reveal that energy companies are looking to capitalize on future sources of energy through R&D technology and strategic M&A activities. With regard to unconventional resources, respondents view solving water and environmental issues, and developing improved fracturing techniques as having the greatest impact on future development in this space.

Other top-line findings:

  • Respondents believe functional gaps are most acute in the areas of operations, reservoir engineering and subsea, particularly in locations where energy is hardest to recover;
  • Compared to 46 percent in 2009, more than 90 percent of respondents would now recommend careers in energy and support heightened academic advocacy of energy and oil & gas-related degree programs;
  • More than 50 percent of respondents view Eastern Europe and China as the main focus areas for development of unconventional resources in the foreseeable future;
  • Respondents believe government will play a role in technology development and future energy sourcing through changes in legislation and tax breaks for the development of cleaner technologies.

From a geographic perspective, the survey revealed that most companies see West Africa as the leading region for deploying production resources in the foreseeable future. Offshore North America and the Middle East were tied in the survey as the second most important areas for near-term production opportunities.

“The recent news from the Obama administration could be a game changer from a regional perspective,” noted Ferguson. “It will be interesting to see how the proposal for opening offshore areas along the Atlantic coastline, eastern Gulf of Mexico and north coast of Alaska to oil and natural gas drilling will impact the energy industry’s view on regional futures. While drilling in these new areas will likely not take place for years, the timing may work favorably as companies continue to strengthen their balance sheets and workforce talent in preparation for a global market correction.”

The survey participants incorporated a sampling of leadership from all energy sectors including upstream, midstream, subsea, oil field services, EPC and seismic/subsurface. Nearly two-thirds of the companies surveyed have international operations and the majority of headquarters were located in the U.S. followed by Europe, although companies in Canada, Latin America, Asia-Pacific and Africa were included in the sample. The surveyed companies’ revenues ranged from less than $500 million to more than $10 billion annually.

For complete survey results and more details, visit

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