Over the coming decades, all industries will be transformed by converging technological trends that dramatically alter how companies do business. This will undoubtedly lead to many current jobs becoming obsolete. However, technological change will also create countless new roles that companies will need to fill.
We’re future-gazing and fast-forwarding to 2040, where we’re looking at the most in-demand jobs in the offshore oil and gas industry.
Virtual Reality Trainer
Significant advances in virtual reality technology mean that almost all technical employees are now able to be trained remotely, dramatically reducing costs for operating companies. In the past, many employees were previously trained on-site. Today, however, employees take part in virtual reality workshops that perfectly replicate the environment of working in an oil field.
These sessions are led by Virtual Reality Trainers, who form the backbone of all major companies’ training programs. Having been early adopters of virtual reality gaming during their teenage years, they combine traditional teaching skills with the ability to operate seamlessly in a virtual reality environment.
Underwater Drone Supervisor
In 2040, installing subsea equipment is the preserve of semi-autonomous robots. However, due diligence (and legal requirements) mean that all work performed by robotic workers must be supervised by human beings. To save costs and reduce risk, this is performed remotely by engineers, who use cameras mounted on underwater drones to inspect the work and ensure everything is up to standard.
Data is enormously valuable to all companies, and almost all mechanical components are digitized, with real-time information used to make instantaneous business decisions. However, the value of the data is only as high as its quality, and many companies still struggle with imperfect data sets. Teams of Data Cleaners have the important (if unenviable and time-consuming) job assessing the quality of data produced, and fixing the inconsistencies that they find.
Haptic technology is now widely used, particularly in touch-screens that apply forces and vibrations back to the user. For most people, this is merely an everyday and unnoticeable part of their interaction with technology. However, in oil and gas, having high quality tactile electronics is extraordinarily important. There are few genuinely “hands-on” day-to-day jobs in the industry today, but engineering specialists are still kept on hand in case of technological failure. The use of high-responsive haptic equipment allows them to deal with problems remotely as if they were present in real life.
3D Graphics Designer
The widespread adoption of virtual and augmented reality has led to a huge surge in demand for 3D graphics designers, making them as necessary to any business as IT managers and accountants were in previous decades. Almost all workers spend large parts of their day in virtual digital environments, and companies are increasingly prioritizing the hiring of high-quality designers to make these environments as pleasant and attractive as possible.
The Robotics Manager is one of the few people in an oil and gas company who is still able to get his hands dirty every day. While the widespread adoption of robotic technologies has changed the industry beyond recognition, even the most expensive robots still experience wear and tear. Most of the Robotics Manager’s day is spent monitoring his charges to ensure everything is working correctly. However, bosses are comforted by his extensive knowledge of how each robot functions, meaning that he or she can quickly pick up their tools and fix any hardware problems or breakages that may occur.
Since the 2020s, the offshore industry has enthusiastically adopted wearable technology to monitor employee performance and health. However, companies have now started to look even further and have begun fitting employees with biotechnological upgrades to improve their performance and monitor all vital signs. To make biotech available to its sizeable workforce, the offshore industry has recently begun to employ biotech installers. This role combines many skills that would have previously been associated with physiotherapists and surgeons. While installers are not fully qualified doctors, they have received extensive training, and are employed by companies for non-urgent and non-invasive installation procedures.
Looking forward from the present day, it’s clear that oil and gas will soon be unrecognizable. While we can look at current trends to make predictions for the future, there are likely to be countless events that change the industry in ways no one can currently imagine. However, one thing is certain — change is the new normal, and the offshore industry must be prepare to adapt.
(Top image: VR and haptic technology will part of the oil and gas engineer's portfolio. Image credit: Getty Images)
This piece first appeared on the io’s Powerful Thinking blog.
Dan Jackson is CEO of io oil & gas consulting, a GE and McDermott venture. For more information about io oil & gas consulting, visit www.iooilandgas.com. To read more from Dan Jackson and the team, follow io on Twitter @io_oilandgas.