Brazil's Oil Boom Attracts Highly Paid Foreign Professionals

Foreign workers in Brazil’s petroleum industry are directly linked to the lack of qualified Brazilian manpower in the sector, according to Paulo Buarque de Macedo Guimarães, superintendent of the National Organization of Petroleum Industry (ONIP). Guimarães feels that foreign workers replacing Brazilians in the oil market is not good for the economy.

The executive told BBC Brasil that “a company may pay, besides the salary, another $100,000 to maintain a foreign professional and his family in the country. It would be much more competitive to hire a Brazilian professional, which the country critically lacks.”

The 11th Round for exploration areas that took place last May will further boost jobs as in the previous rounds. The auction prior to that took place in 2008. Investments in exploration of new oil gas fields also include major and multinational oil companies. Another two auctions are planned for this year, including Libra pre-salt in October and shale by year-end.

With Petrobras’ investments of $224 billion over the next four years, we will see an even larger demand in two to three years due to project maintenance and expansion, Petrobras sources told Rigzone.

According the Hays O&G salary guide published in April, the average annual salary for foreign professionals increased by about 20 percent between 2012 and 2013 from $106,000 to $131,400. This represents a twofold increase compared to the world average, 8.5 percent of $87,300. 

Although hiring foreigners can cost up to three times the salary paid to a Brazilian, qualified workers are a hot commodity. The government estimates that the new Brazilian oil fields will require 250,000 new professionals through 2016. PROMINP (the national Program to Mobilize the Petroleum and Natural Gas Industry) developed in 2003 in conjunction with Petrobras, plans to turn out 212,000 professionals by 2014.

Analysts observe that everyone is fighting for the best professionals and engineers are getting hired right out of college. Most in demand are operations managers, logistics managers, project managers, contract managers and engineers. Analysts agree that one of the most challenging positions to fill is the contract manager, which requires a good amount of experience in dealing with Petrobras’ complex rules and regulations.


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