The past few years have been challenging for the mining industry. A volatile commodities market, lack of financing, safety, and job layoffs have driven many employees out of the business. In the oil and gas sector, the natural gas surplus brought on by the rise of fracking combined with constant OPEC output has caused prices to decline, putting some rigs, and employees, out of commission.
But a recent CNBC report, Energy jobs: Oil and gas industry could hire 100,000 workers – if it can find them, suggests change is coming for the oil and gas sector. According to the article, Goldman Sachs estimates that the U.S. oil industry will need to hire tens of thousands of workers in the next two and a half years as oil prices recover and drillers stand up rigs. However, given the less than 5% unemployment rate, former oil and gas industry employees may have already found more stable places to go, and they may not be willing to come back. If they don’t, say industry recruiters interviewed for the article, oilfield services companies and drillers may not only face a shortage of workers, but be forced to engage in bidding wars to keep their remaining employees, who will be heavily recruited as drilling activities ramp up.
According to Payscale.com, average salaries for reservoir engineers in the United States surpass six figures annually. It describes the position as follows:
Reservoir engineers are specialists in locating — and helping petroleum companies effectively use — underground reservoirs of fossil fuels. Using geological expertise, knowledge of fluid mechanics, and various forms of technology, the reservoir engineer determines the location of underground fuel reservoirs and their reserve capacities, as well as whether their long-term viability makes them suitable for investment. The reservoir engineer works with geologists to monitor the reserves as fuels are extracted and makes adjustments to extraction processes as geological changes occur with the depletion of the fuel. As easier-to-reach fuel reservoirs are depleted internationally, reservoir engineering increasingly explores new techniques to locate viable drilling spots, and developing and modifying machinery to tap into these spots.
Tools that may help reservoir engineers do their jobs include portable X-ray fluorescence (XRF) analyzers. XRF analyzers provide rapid sample analysis in the field that improves efficiency in oil and gas exploration and production (E&P) operations. Portable XRF analyzers are not used to directly analyze hydrocarbon fluids, but they can be used to characterize reservoir properties that influence porosity (cements), permeability (clays, cement type), fracture population (Si content), and productivity (e.g. Si, Mg content). These assay data are very important in interpretation of the hydrocarbon potential of the strata and can be used in the areas of inferring mineralogy, mud logging, chemostratigraphy, reservoir characterization, and oil and gas productivity.
Once a mining operation is in place, a laboratory information management systems (LIMS) can generate data to develop predictive models that help mine operations become proactive rather than reactive, a significant advantage when substantial investments are at stake.