Jobs Are Changing In Oil and Gas. Here Is How and Why…

If we fast forward 10 years, what type of jobs will be still be relevant in upstream oil and gas ? Would your current job description read the same for a new applicant? Will it still exist?

There is no denying that technological changes are upon us.  When it comes to digital data technology, there are two waves of change in plain sight, one behind the other.  The first wave is in a bundle of technology enhancing and enabling one another. This bundle includes faster connectivity, IOT/ IIOT, Cloud, AI (Artificial Intelligence) and Robots.  This change is already strongly underway.  The second wave is following closely behind the first and will probably have the same impact if not larger. This is in the distributed ledger and crypto technology, specifically Blockchain Technology.

The Why

The industry went through/is undergoing a crew change, with baby boomers retiring and younger employees stepping in. This crew change is coinciding with lower commodity prices, opening the door and arms to any technology could impact the bottom line.  These new technologies are proving themselves plenty, resulting in ever greater shifts in daily tasks, if not entire job descriptions.

Major technological change, like the above, always calls for adaptation or job abolition.  New skills will arise, some will be obsolete, yet others will morph. Reskilling or upskilling is no longer optional.

Back to the question, will your current job description read the same in 10 years? It’s a question worth pondering and answering.

The What and How

From our recent experience (and research), here are some of the many jobs that may morph into something different in the same way the map drafters (draftsman) morphed to Geotechs in the previous digital revolution from paper to digital:

  • Shale Reservoir Engineering: This job has increasingly focused on reserves estimation and economics. Granular estimates require customized production analyses. Today this task is time consuming and takes the bulk of Reservoir Engineer’s time. As capabilities in AI modeling advance, I believe “Supervised” or “Reinforcement” Machine Learning (ML) could automate this work, altering the job description to focus on detailed management and recovery efficiency of the reservoir.
  • Surveillance and Maintenance Engineering: today, for many digitally maturing organizations, automated surveillance and managing by exception has become the norm. However, predictive and prescriptive maintenance enabled by ML and Augmented Reality (AR) will become the new norm.  Furthermore, with blockchain or otherwise, vendors can be integrated in the ecosystem to ascertain equipment optimal performance for their customers (as additional services).  A combination of IIoT, ML, AR and expanded ecosystem alters inhouse surveillance and maintenance jobs, yet opens up new opportunities for service companies.
  • Lease Brokers and Land Administrators: with increased connectivity to source systems and with verifiable trusted data on immutable blockchain ledger, much of the due-diligence and verification work could be reduced if not fully automated in the future. These jobs could morph to something new and exciting.

Summary: Stay Relevent

IoT, IIOT, Cloud, AR, VR, Bots, ML-AI, and Blockchain are all here to stay. But as powerful as the digital world and machines are , they are not without flaws or challenges. The human mind will always be more flexible and can deal with more and forseeable scenarios. Nonetheless, some jobs will become obsolete, others will morph, and new ones will arise.          

Knowing what could change, how and when, will help you to prepare a strategic road map to stay ahead and relevant.

What jobs do you think will be different in 10 years? What new and exciting jobs will become available? Alternatively, let me know your job and I will share my thoughts on how it would morph (info@certisinc.com).

Here are some curated references:

  • SPE-194746-MS: The End of Petroleum Engineering as We Know It. From the SPE library
  • What to Do When Industry Disruption Threatens Your Career. MIT Sloan Management Review, Spring 2019

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