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."


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.