With the speed of the energy transition increasing rapidly, thousands of people who have been working in the oil & gas industry could be forgiven for wondering what's next for them.
What was once an industry offering an interesting, varied and lucrative career for life, is no longer quite so secure. A combination of environmental, financial, social and political pressures have seen even the biggest fossil fuel companies publish their "Net Zero" plans in an attempt to keep up with the change happening around the world.
So, what should all those highly skilled people do next? Could a career change to a new industry be the answer?
Renewable energy is booming
Hundreds of billions of dollars are being invested into new technologies for generating and transporting electricity, creating sustainable fuel sources, energy storage systems and more. Several reports show that upwards of $2.5 trillion was spent between 2010 and 2019, and this figure is likely to be beaten in the coming decade.
All this money being spent means jobs being created.
These vast, complex problems need highly skilled specialists to solve them.
It almost doesn't matter which one you choose, there are key skills which all renewable energy projects can use;
• Engineering & Design
• Project Management
• Operations & Maintenance
• Electrical, Controls Systems and Instrumentation
• Health & Safety and Regulatory compliance
• Quality Control and Inspection
The industry is growing and evolving, making it very attractive for those needing to make a change.
Scottish Oil workers considering retraining
Areas such as carbon capture, utility-scale battery systems, underground energy storage, offshore wind and hydrogen all have needs which can be met by the oil workforce.
HydrogenAs the potential fuel of the future, there is a massive amount of interest worldwide, with projects already being announced and ambitious schemes proposed.
The recent European Hydrogen Week saw hundreds of industry stakeholders gather virtually to discuss their plans and what they feel is needed to realise the potential of the most common element in the universe.
In simple terms, investment. Lots of it.
€430 billion was a figure mentioned regularly, and it would lead to the creation of tens of thousands of jobs across the continent:
‘’Almost every process in the hydrogen production facility is a process which has been utilized extensively in the oil and gas industry whether that be water treatment, gas dehydration and compression, oxygen treatment and liquefaction, piping design… etc. the only new aspect for an engineer with a background in oil and gas is the electrolysis process. ‘’ Quote - Mary Snowdon, IO Consulting
Offshore wind is one key area where the knowledge and technical expertise of oil workers can be used. These people are used to operating in rough seas year-round, installing facilities and making sure they work.
As the size of windfarms increases (Dogger Bank is a great example), so does the number of people needed to build and operate them. They also offer long-term work, with a typical project having long engineering & development phases, 2-3 years construction and then 20-25 years of operation.
Windfarms are also crucial to the success of Hydrogen, being one of the only ways we can generate enough green electricity to power the electrolysers which make hydrogen.
Carbon capture and storage (CCS)CCS is fairly self-explanatory: taking carbon dioxide out of the air and putting it somewhere safe.
Large industrial facilities, refineries, power plants etc. are great opportunities to use technology to capture the gas, which is then transported to underground facilities for storage.
As another process-based industry, engineers from Oil & Gas can find their skills and experience to be highly valued here, with a combination of geology, engineering and chemistry needed.
The oil industry has even helped create the potential for storing CO2, using the empty reservoirs left by depleted oil and gas fields. Pilot projects have already demonstrated that the technology works; now it's a case of scaling things up.
In the North Sea alone, it is estimated that there is space to store over 5,000 gigatons of carbon dioxide.
While the future of the oil & gas industry may look a little less bright, the prospects for the workforce are very strong.
There are many industries able to make use of the range of skills, knowledge and experience that people have.
Talk to Brunel about how we can help.