The Shortage of Petroleum Engineers-Are We Solving The Problem?
- P.M. Dranchuk (U. Of Alberta)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- July 1965
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 790 - 796
- 1965. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 2 in the last 30 days
- 206 since 2007
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During the past decade the petroleum industry has been faced with an increasing shortage of engineers. The shortage, which is only critical, can be attributed directly to declining enrollment in the mineral science programs offered by the universities on this Continent.
Although there are undoubtedly many reasons for declining enrollment, two major hypotheses can be postulated. The first is that high school graduates are either unaware of the petroleum industry and the opportunities in it, or that they are aware of them but have somehow obtained a false image of their true nature. The second hypothesis is that they are aware of the true nature of this industry and the opportunities it offers, but find them exceedingly, unattractive.
In recent years the petroleum industry has been faced with an increasing shortage of technical personnel. At present this shortage is serious, if not acute. Although the shortage was predicted during the early 1950's, few people accepted the prediction at that time. As time showed the prediction to be sound, industry slowly accepted it, but even then with reluctance and only on the basis that it was but a temporary phenomenon. In fact, there are members of industry who, although they realize they are about to drown, still have the feeling that if they can but Survive a bit longer, the waters shall recede. The majority, however, views this as wishful thinking.
The direct reason for the shortage of technical personnel is quite obvious. During the past 15 years the industry has grown rapidly while the enrollment in the appropriate technical fields has declined rapidly and consistently.
To avert the predicted crisis, the industry, professions and educators concerned have attacked the problem with increasing vigor. After more than five years, success is yet to be achieved. In fact, it is questionable if Success is even in sight.
Based upon these facts, the object of this study was to examine the problem, the various manners in which it has been attacked, the results that have been obtained, the likelihood of success of the present methods, and the possible alternate methods which might be applied.
Is There a Technical Manpower Shortage in the Petroleum Industry?
When individual members of industry are interviewed and the question, "Is there a technical manpower shortage?", is posed, almost every interview yields a different answer. Some state that there is a critical shortage. Others state that they understand some firms are having trouble finding men, but that their firm is in good shape. Still others maintain that supply and demand have fluctuated for years and that the present situation is not unusual therefore there is no shortage.
A review of the literature indicates that:
1. Petroleum engineering enrollment in U. S. colleges has declined steadily since 1957.
2. In Aug., 1961, the U, of North Dakota announced plans to suspend its mining and petroleum engineering curriculum. In the announcement, they made the observation that enrollment in mining engineering in all colleges has dropped 41 per cent in the last nine years, and enrollment in petroleum engineering has dropped 63 per cent in the past three years.
3. In 1963, the U. of Alberta discontinued the BSc program in petroleum engineering.
4. The shortage in the petroleum industry probably will continue for another five years or more.
5. As a result of rapidly increasing world population and the demands of emerging nations, increasing demands for energy and minerals are predicted.
6. Although the petroleum industry demand picture is not known, estimates indicate that this year in the U. S. over 200 companies plan to hire between 25 and 30 per cent more engineers at the BS level and about 40 per cent more at the MS level than last year. On the Canadian scene, it is estimated" that during the current year some 20 oil companies visited the U. of Alberta campus, each seeking approximately 5 to 15 engineers, with one company seeking over 150 university-trained people.
Thus, despite the feelings or beliefs of individual members of industry, a shortage of technical personnel in the petroleum industry has, does, and will continue to exist for some time to come.
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