Brazil's Oil Boom Requires Skilled Professionals

Brazil's Oil Boom Requires Skilled Professionals

Brazil's budding oil industry continues to garner global attention as the country discovers and develops large amounts of oil in the offshore pre-salt blocks. There's an estimated 14 billion barrels of proven reserves that lie off the coasts of Rio de Janeiro and Espirito Santo, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). In addition to having a lot of oil, the country holds high-quality light sweet crude oil – a commodity that is in high demand.

These pre-salt discoveries can potentially make Brazil the sixth largest oil producer in the world by 2035. With this in mind, Petroleo Brasileiro S.A., or Petrobras, invested $43 billion in 2010, and then planned a $225 billion investment for 2011 to 2015. The company expects to lift its oil production within Brazil from 2 to 3 million barrels per day by 2015 to 4.9 million by 2020, according to Switzerland Global Enterprise's white paper "Swiss Business Hub Brazil: the Brazilian Oil and Gas Sector".

The company allocated:

  • $127.5 billion to exploration and production
  • $70.6 billion to refining
  • $13.2 billion to gas & energy
  • $3.8 billion to petrochemical
  • $3.1 billion to distribution
  • $4.1 billion to biofuels
  • $2.4 billion to corporate

Billion Dollar Investment in Need of Manpower

This record investment in the petroleum and natural gas industry spearheaded Brazil's job market at a breakneck pace. Billion dollar investments have created a positive landscape for job seekers and the trend expects to continue for years to come.

"Traditionally in Brazil, recruitment in oil and gas happened through personal referrals and people 'knowing' others," commented Keith Jones, head of business for Brazil's oil and gas division at Hays, to Rigzone. "As the demand for talent increases, recruiters such as Hays are needed to search for 'specialist' roles and once the job requirements outnumber the pool of local talent, it is inevitable that specialized recruiters will be needed."

Among the professionals most in demand are operations managers, logistics managers, project managers, contract managers and engineers, but positions that relate to local shipyards and its sector are at the top, according to Jones.

"Due to local content law and the upcoming bid rounds, we are seeing a big rise in jobs related to this area," he said.

Brazil's government will hold a long-delayed round of bidding for offshore oil and gas concessions in May. The National Petroleum Agency (ANP) Bid Round for onshore and offshore oil and gas blocks, which has been suspended for more than four years, will auction 289 offshore blocks. The bid is scheduled to occur May 14-15, 2013.

"With the new [exploration and production] campaign that will happen after the new auction round in May, I'm noticing that the in-demand positions are geologists, geophysicists and petro physicists," Ricardo Guedes, managing director at Michael Page Brazil, said to Rigzone.

Currently, there are 77 oil and gas companies operating in Brazil - 38 of those are foreign companies from 19 different countries. The government is hoping that the new bid rounds will attract more foreign investments.

"With the lack of engineers, companies will have to search abroad for offshore positions, such as OIM, Operations Superintendents, other crew positions, or invest in newly graduated engineers," said Guedes. "We have 48 FPSOs in Brazil's pipeline until 2020 and another 300 different types of vessels, and professionals related to the offshore operation will be at the center of everything."

However, the local content law, which refers to the use of domestic goods and services, demands for awarded contracts, that require activities in the exploration phase, use between 37 and 85 percent of local goods and services. Then, awarded contracts that are in the development phase must use between 55 and 80 percent of local goods and services. Such rules are an attempt to keep revenue and cash flow generated by the commercialization of the pre-salt reserves within Brazil in order to permit the growth of segments of domestic manufacturing companies, technical development of the sector and the training of local human resources, resulting in more jobs and income for locals, according to ANP.

"Local recruiting has seen a decrease, recently," said Jones. "Recent Hays data found that Brazilian local employee salaries in the sector decreased last year with expat salaries rising. I believe the rise in expat salaries is a reflection for the need of specialized experienced workers who expect a similar package in Brazil as they would receive elsewhere."

With the demand for shipyard positions, the need for skilled workers to build, maintain, repair and perform technical installations on drilling rigs, platforms, ships and other offshore infrastructure are essential.

Training courses and programs are trying to keep up with the demand and SENAI, a local professional training school, has doubled the number of professional training courses in the last four years, reported the Rio Times. Programa de Mobilizacao da Industria de Petroleo e Gas Natural, PROMINP, a training program developed in 2003 in conjunction with Petrobras to train individuals, is expected to graduate 212,000 professionals in 2014.

However, some companies are opting to search beyond Brazil's borders, if regulators lax their requirements.

"Local content law can prevent us from presenting the perfect candidate for the role," stated Jones. "Once the talent in Brazil has been exhausted, I believe these laws will have to be loosened enabling recruiters to bring in overseas candidates."

For professionals with oil and gas experience looking to relocate to Brazil, Jones emphasized that there are restrictions on foreign workers working in Brazil's oil and gas companies.

"In my opinion, the best route to enter Brazil's heated job market is through an organization with headquarters in the United States that have a subsidiary in Brazil."


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Generated by readers, the comments included herein do not reflect the views and opinions of Rigzone. All comments are subject to editorial review. Off-topic, inappropriate or insulting comments will be removed.
Alfonso Egoavil | May. 6, 2013
I think Petrobras must open a special Recruiter Department to hire professionals from other countries and give more facilities to apply for working visa while They can prepare & train Brazilians professionals.

Archie | May. 4, 2013
Having lived in Brazil for the past 13 years, and worked as an ex pat in the Oil business for the past 20+, (outside Brazil) and significantly having first hand expreience of the labour laws in Brazil, which are to be honest archaic and blatantly biased towards the workers rights, thiese laws will prove to be a major turn off the multi nationals investing in local labor, not to mention the tax system which is so complex even a corenr shop needs an accountant if they want to operate legally, which is why the majority operate in the grey zone.Brazil needs a major wake up and move into the same economic era as the rest of the world, however with a communist mentality government set to remain in power for the foreseeable future, this is highly unlikely, the sinical politicians have it way too good to give up

Alexandre de Paula | May. 3, 2013
Indeed, SOME countries are just unable to supply that percentage of the local content (LC). Brazil, instead, has a population of 200 million. It has plenty of colleges, exports oil, steel, automobiles and airplanes. It produces 6 million vehicles per year from 20 different manufacturers. Thanks to the LC and other government initiatives Brazil has experienced the lowest unemployment rate ever, luring also well educated Brazilians to return home. In the meantime, the European and the US economies have plunged in 2008 and now are stagnated - in spite of all the profit the multinational companies take home! May we have some of it - a local content?

AP | May. 3, 2013
I never understand why they rarely look outside O&G to source talent from other industries and put them alongside the ageing experienced workforce.

wilma Guedes | May. 3, 2013
I would like to say that in Brasil,the professionals older than 55 are put on the side of the market....If they are used for sure we will have a gain and move faster... An experienced professional + a young recently graduated professional = to specialists.!!!!! I mean,put them to work together and be sure to have great professionals around!!!

Texan In Sumatra | May. 1, 2013
Since 1997 Ive worked as ex-pat in 6 different countries, and will be heading off for my 7th assignment in July. Ive handled both Drilling Engineering and Contract Administration in most of them (therefore dealing with government entities and Local Content (LC) laws on a regular basis). I find it interesting to note that the country with the LEAST restrictive LC Laws (Thailand), actually had the HIGHEST amount of local content, the best working atmosphere, the most skilled local labor force, and - most importantly - the HIGHEST productivity and profitability. People WANT to go work there and they consistently set world record after world record for performance. This is a stark contrast with Mexico or Indonesia (where Im currently at), where operations are somewhat hampered and restricted by LC laws (and labor unions) and things are sometimes heinously inefficient. Its an even more stark contrast to Nigeria, where operations were hamstrung, crippled, always inefficient, and sometimes almost impossible. LC laws are another fine example of politicians playing in the business sector where they dont belong. Well intended, but counterproductive. They are supposed to be designed to "keep the money at home" and "encourage knowledge transfer to the indigenous population". Unfortunately, in practice, they usually just drive up costs, discourage open competition, encourage underhanded/unfair bidding practices, drive down (or sometime destroy) efficiency, drive down service quality (through forced employment of underqualified personnel), drive down material quality (especially if those material MUST be locally manufactered and the country is technically incapable of doing so), and drive up maintenance and repair costs (due to both material and personnel quality), etc. We wont even discuss the "money in-country" part, the only ones whose pockets usually end up with more in the are the politicians, local "partners" or "agents" (who sometimes contribute NOTHING except their name and a license they bought from the politicians), and officials at all levels of the government bodies in charge controlling the bidding process. (US based/owned companies are at a competitive disadvantage because we refuse to play by the local rules, but others (including some of our competitors) have no qualms about doing so.) Therefore, as with so many other "fixes" for the business world proposed by politicians, they yet another idea that sounds good and sells well to the uneducated when politicians make speeches about it (usually when campaigning for re-election), but fails miserably in practice. More importantly, as with Thailand, the coutries that dont MANDATE LC and allow free market principles and business needs determine it not only are more successful and profitable in the long run, they actually end up with higher local content and a more skilled local labor force as well.

Rick Morgan | May. 1, 2013
as long as Brazil keeps to their current restrictive practices, they will continue to be seen as a third world-but emerging production area. Even some of the African producers recognize the need for expat professionals to ensure profitability and safety.

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