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The Chairman's latest P&J column


The oil price: challenges exist but opportunities will arise
(from the Chairman's monthly column in the Press & Journal)

January is already in full swing with those in the business community swiftly dusting off the post-festive cobwebs. 2015 will present its own challenges and opportunities in whichever sector you operate in, but there is the glaring situation which those in the energy market are continuing to face up to: the falling oil price.

We remain an independent, family owned business that has grown from a small employment agency supplying the Highland rig construction yards, to a world leader in providing personnel. In 28 years the business has faced challenges, but this collapse in the price of Brent Crude oil is unarguably very significant.

Towards the end of 2014, industry body Oil and Gas UK, industry skills and safety body OPITO and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, suggested that as many as 35,000 jobs in the UK energy sector could be cut over the next five years. This was linked directly to the falling oil price.

When your business is people, the figure outlined by the trio is certainly one which makes you sit up straight and take stock of the situation, but on a worldwide basis. Yes Aberdeen will be hit hard and people as they have done before will have to travel across the Globe to find work. And yes when the price goes back up – which it has too, we will then have to attract them back! The UK Government must look at PRT levels and bring them down to protect the UK Basin, they need to take urgent action and of course sods law has intervened and the general election is the focus of our Politicians! What’s in the minds of Opec, the “frackers” in the USA, Russia is too complex for this column.

But the UK Energy sector has always been resilient and will continue to be, of that I have no doubt.

My business is recruitment. During the last two decades Orion Group’s portfolio of services has been significantly extended to provide for a wide range of technical support services and we will never rest on our laurels.

Our international success stems from our commitment to our people and our passion to deliver excellence. Orion has always and will continue to approach new challenges with innovation and enthusiasm – we enjoy what we do, and we’re good at it. We will never shirk from the challenge and mark my words; the falling oil price is most certainly that.

But that said, when viewed from the perspective of a recruiter, there may even be some positives to arise from the drop in Brent Crude.  It has been well documented that job losses have unfortunately taken place following the spectacular decline of the oil price.

However, the demand for talented staff will always remain and recruitment businesses are on hand to snap up the very best that the industry has to offer for clients. We will arguably see a considerable number of highly qualified workers becoming available in 2015, which may go some way in plugging the skills shortages in the sector and satisfying them others!

The reduction in oil prices will impact on the sector, but not on the demand for the best talent in the workforce.

We have always looked to employ and develop highly skilled teams with cross-industry experience who can meet the most challenging job specifications with a confidence and professionalism unequaled in the recruitment sector. We have no plans to change this approach during what is a challenging time for the energy sector.

I am just back from a quick trip to Singapore and Indonesia where projects are going ahead especially in the development of natural gas and the liquification; refining and err crude oil developments!

Whilst in Singapore I awoke up to the news that Brent crude, the major benchmark price for oil worldwide, fell to below $50.  This drop is considerable and nobody can be sure if a further reduction will take place. However I “googled” world natural gas prices and it looked to me like it varied from country to country furthermore that countries where it is high would be developing their reserves which would create design, construction, service then operations and maintenance jobs.

It’s a Global (put the cheque in the post Roy) marketplace and from our 44 offices we will be exploiting it! Exxon have Cracker plant investment in Texas that will create 10,000 construction jobs! West Africa continues to invest. So, without being over optimistic, there is life beyond 50 (dollars).

Alan Savage's regular column can be found in the Press & Journal's business supplement. Visit The Press & Journal website for all the latest local and national Oil and Gas business news.
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