Significant movements in earnings for oil and gas engineers

Paul Boughton

Engineers in the oil and gas industry saw significant movements in their 2012 average earnings over the preceding twelve months, according to the latest data from Rigzone, a leading online resource for oil and gas industry information, jobs and data.

According to Rigzone’s Compensation Tracker, electrical, petroleum, safety and civil engineers saw the largest increases in their annual compensation in per centage terms in 2012 – each recording at least a seven per cent increase (Table 1). While those earning the most in absolute terms were reservoir, drilling and petroleum engineers (Table 2).

However, being at the top of the earnings ladder one year would not appear to guarantee an ever upwards rise.  Two factors have weighed on average compensation in the oil and gas industry:  some reduction in drilling activity in key markets, as well as less experienced professionals joining the ranks.

As an example, in 2011, drilling specialists topped the Rigzone earnings table for engineers, pocketing on average $122,284 for their efforts. However, their wings were collectively clipped in 2012, with their average 2012 compensation being $120,749, down one percent year/year.

By contrast reservoir engineers, who were second in the engineers’ earning league table in 2011 saw a sharp 6 per cent climb in 2012, their annual compensation climbing from $121,297 to $128,789. And, for those fortunate to be working in North America, pickings were richest, North American-based reservoir engineers earning on average $149,611 in the year.

Likewise, the stock of petroleum engineers rose significantly in 2012, an eight percent climb taking their average annual compensation for the year to $111,097.

Paul Caplan, President, Rigzone said: “Given the nature of the industry, surges of interest in particular skill-sets and experience are an inevitable aspect of the sector as projects move from exploration to planning to production and performance management.  The one consistent theme over decades is the need to recruit and hire engineers and engineers’ desire to work on complex projects.  Employees and graduates should be keeping any eye on those areas that historically may not have been in the spotlight. For example, electrical, civil and safety engineers – were amongst the biggest climbers in percentage terms in 2012.”

The Rigzone Compensation Tracker collected data from 7,193 engineers from Africa, Australia & Oceania, Asia, Europe, Middle East, North America and South America in 2012. The findings form part of an industry-wide study on compensation from data collected by the Company.
Table 1: HIGHEST CLIMBERS     % move 2012/2011

electrical engineer                   8%
petroleum engineer                 8%
safety engineer                       7%
civil engineer                           7%
reservoir engineer                   6%
process engineer                    5%
general engineer                     4%
environmental engineer          3%
design engineer                      3%
mechanical engineer               2%
maintenance engineer             2%
production engineer                 1%
chemical engineers                  unchanged
ships engineer                         -1%
instrument engineer                 -1%
mud engineer                           -1%
drilling engineer                        -1%
pipeline engineer                      -4%
structural engineer                    -4%

Table 2: HIGHEST EARNERS 2012 (US$)

reservoir engineer                    128,789
drilling engineer                        120,749
petroleum engineer                  111,097
general engineer                      102,618
process engineer                      100,704
ships engineer                            99,598
production engineer                    98,618
mud engineer                              96,552
safety engineer                            94,808
pipeline engineer                         94,280
structural engineer                       94,261
maintenance engineer                 92,089
instrument engineer                     90,550
mechanical engineer                    89,959
environmental engineer                89,892
chemical engineers                       88,926
civil engineer                                  85,061
electrical engineer                          82,514
design engineer                              81,143

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