Shale boom providing a boost to the engineering profession


Partnering with external technology consultants can help producers find the right equipment to ensure that they remain profitable in the face of new cost pressures.

According to a recent report from the National Association of Colleges and Employers, graduates from the class of 2013 who majored in petroleum engineering are on track to earn substantially higher wages than any of their peers, with an average starting salary of $93,500.

In contrast, the average for all 2013 graduates—$44,928—is less than half of that. Even other engineering graduates are being left in the dust, as the overall starting salary for this group is less than $63,000. According to Gladney Darroh, president of Piper-Morgan Associates Personnel Consultants, engineers' salaries have been driven up by the outbreak of an "all out war for talent" in the oil and gas industry.

Darroh, whose firm specializes in recruiting engineers for energy companies, told CNNMoney's Alanna Petroff that "the hardest individuals to recruit are people who have anywhere from five to 15 years of experience." The recruiting executive also explained that, beyond offering high starting salaries to attract fresh talent, companies are also often finding themselves with no choice but to offer generous incentives to their engineers to get them to stay in their jobs in the face of overtures from competitors.

"They recognize that if that talent walks out the door it's going to be very expensive and time-consuming to replace them," Darroh explained.

Petroff also spoke to NES Global Talent Director Dane Goeneveld, who said that the same supply-and-demand pattern—and its inevitable impact on salaries—can be seen in other nations as well, including both developed nations such as Canada and Australia and emerging economies in Brazil, China and India.

"We're being pulled in a lot of directions right now," Groeneveld said. "I think the competition for talent is really broad."

With top technical talent coming at an increasingly high cost, well operators will remain under pressure to maximize the return on their investments. Partnering with external technology consultants can help producers find the right equipment to ensure that they remain profitable in the face of new cost pressures.

Hydraulic jet pumps can be an especially useful tool for maximizing recovery rates. This versatile solution can be successfully deployed in straight, horizontal or deviated wells and with no downhole moving parts, maintenance needs are minimal. Furthermore, the unit can be used at sites where problems with the completion of well casing would limit the effectiveness of other artificial lift equipment.