Perth should aim to export to oil and gas expertise (Page 1 of 3) By Dale Granger, 9 May 2013

Australia should be striving to emulate Houston and Aberdeen by making an investment in intellectual capital to emerge as the global oil and gas hub of excellence in South East Asia and a net exporter of industry skills.

This head hunter's haven is the vision of Mark Guest, Managing Director of OilCareers, the global oil and gas job board deploying a worldwide database that generates 1.5 million visits per month from prospective applicants seeking employment opportunities from the 18,000 vacancies the company displays on its portal each month.

Guest is singing off the same hymn sheet as WA Premier Colin Barnett and the state's Chamber of Commerce in acknowledgement that sustained growth in Australia's resource rich region can only be fuelled by a net migration inflow of skilled personnel.

Australia, however, is not the only region in the world striving for expertise critical to bringing multi-billion oil and gas projects to reality on time and within budget for exports to flow to market.

It's a juggling act on a high wire and Guest, in the middle of a tug of war between fiercely competing companies and countries, has the recipe he believes will transform Australia from a country in crisis for its shortage of skilled labour to a human production line of engineering innovation and scientific ingenuity.

Guest said reimbursement to oil and gas professionals in Australia, now officially the highest in the world, was less of an issue than a skills famine that threatens to starve the industry into submission.

“If you are not getting the right people at the right time then inevitably there are going to be cost implications... projects not happening and then the money can be withdrawn. That is more fundamental than the rates of pay,” Guest said.

“Although Australia faces the fact that the product it is producing is a commodity, and the commodity price is fixed outside of Australia, if the cost of employing people in Australia continues to spiral, then it will become more of a contributing factor because a barrel of oil costs the same here as it does anywhere else. More important at the moment, however, the biggest risk relating to projects and personnel is the hiring of skills shortage. You've got to have these people,” said Guest.