UAE salaries: what are the most in-demand oil and gas jobs and how much do they pay?

Field workers, technology experts, energy engineers, data-driven supply chain management professionals and strategic HR leaders are in demand, recruitment experts say

With the global oil and gas industry requiring more than $600 billion of investment annually until 2030 to keep up with the growing need for energy, this will create demand for more jobs, according to recruitment experts.

When the demand and supply shock began in the aftermath of Covid-19 last year, most oil and gas companies responded with large reductions in capital spending. This resulted in budget cutbacks on planned people and talent enhancements, a KPMG report said.

Regardless of the size of the oil and gas company, or whether it is upstream or downstream, the impact will be different on field staff than it is on employees who work in corporate offices, the report said.

“A lot of projects and investment within the oil and gas industry were put on hold for the past couple of years,” says Nikhil Nanda, operations manager at Innovations Group, a recruitment and staffing solutions company.

“There will be a large investment within the industry in 2022 for maintenance projects, as well as new projects, which will result in a large number of jobs opening up.”

Currently, the most in-demand roles in the UAE’s oil and gas industry are field jobs such as those of engineer, supervisor and operator, among others, Mr Nanda says. All these roles are in various service lines such as well testing, coil tubing, wirelines and slicklines.

“All the above roles where the crew is certified by the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company in that particular designation are also in demand,” he says.

Field engineers are required to have experience in specific service lines, tools and systems, as well as good client and stakeholder management skills and health, safety and environment (HSE) knowledge, he says. Field engineers with experience of two to five years are paid a monthly salary of Dh6,500 to Dh7,500, according to Innovations Group.

Meanwhile, field supervisors require experience in overseeing jobs in the field for specific service lines, have knowledge of reporting and other paperwork-related tasks, have experience in managing crews and clients and possess good HSE knowledge, Mr Nanda says.

Those with experience of six to 12 years can earn monthly salaries ranging from Dh9,000 to Dh12,000.

Quote
There will be a large investment within the industry in 2022 for maintenance projects, as well as new projects, which will result in a large number of jobs opening up
Nikhil Nanda, operations manager, Innovations Group

Field operators need to be experienced in operating equipment for specific service lines, have an ability to follow supervisors' instructions and have good HSE knowledge. Those with experience of two to five years are paid between Dh5,000 to Dh7,000 per month, according to Mr Nanda.

“These jobs are mostly advertised on the respective company’s career page online, on LinkedIn or job portals,” he says.

Before the onset of Covid-19, oil and gas companies understood the need to upskill the existing workforce and recruit new employees as more field employees approached retirement, according to the KPMG report. The skills shortage is a long-term problem requiring near-term action, it said.

Talent acquisition teams in oil and gas companies must develop new strategies for university and experienced hiring, the report states.

“With a younger workforce looking for work-life balance, less demanding and harsh working conditions and questioning the longevity of these fossil fuels, the oil and gas industry is facing a tough road ahead trying to get ahead of the talent shortage, particularly in production,” according to Deepa Sud, chief executive of executive search and leadership coaching consultancy Plum Jobs.

“Gone are the days when engineering and science graduates aspired to join the oil and gas industry. Today’s business ecosystem has paved the way for many new jobs, especially involving futuristic technology. The reality is that the once-desirable industry is not the first choice for today’s young generation.”

In-demand jobs and monthly salaries
  • Technology expert in robotics and automation: Dh20,000 to Dh40,000 
  • Energy engineer: Dh25,000 to Dh30,000 
  • Production engineer: Dh30,000 to Dh40,000 
  • Data-driven supply chain management professional: Dh30,000 to Dh50,000 
  • HR leader: Dh40,000 to Dh60,000 
  • Engineering leader: Dh30,000 to Dh55,000 
  • Project manager: Dh55,000 to Dh65,000 
  • Senior reservoir engineer: Dh40,000 to Dh55,000 
  • Senior drilling engineer: Dh38,000 to Dh46,000 
  • Senior process engineer: Dh28,000 to Dh38,000 
  • Senior maintenance engineer: Dh22,000 to Dh34,000 
  • Field engineer: Dh6,500 to Dh7,500
  • Field supervisor: Dh9,000 to Dh12,000
  • Field operator: Dh5,000 to Dh7,000

The sector's struggle to attract millennial and Generation Z workers is well-documented as younger employees prioritise job growth, an environmental focus and other factors, which they believe, correctly or not, to be at odds with the oil and gas sector, the KPMG report says.

At the same time, many younger employees are experiencing their first major economic downturn. Rather than seeking jobs where “making a difference” is the priority, the desire for job stability and reliability will probably increase. Job candidates once previously lost to start-ups could find their place in oil and gas, the report recommends.

While the industry has made technological advancements, upskilling the ageing skilled field workforce has not been at the same pace, resulting in many organisations having an under-skilled workforce, Ms Sud says.

As a result, technology experts who are proficient in automation and robotics are in demand as these roles significantly reduce labour costs. The salaries range considerably as some organisations are willing to hire less experienced candidates and train them, she says.

Starting salaries are from Dh10,000 per month, while more experienced candidates can expect to earn in the range of Dh20,000 a month upwards, with some companies willing to pay Dh40,000 per month for state-of-the-art technology expertise, according to Plum Jobs data.

“With a greater demand for alternative energies and environmental management, we are seeing an upswing in demand for experienced energy engineers from renewable, non-carbon energy and natural gas [disciplines] who have environmental and science backgrounds and they earn on average Dh25,000 to Dh30,000 per month,” Ms Sud says.

Businesses are also keen to maximise production efficiency by reducing the cost of exploration, extraction, refining and distribution to stay competitive. Therefore, production engineers who typically earn between Dh30,000 to Dh40,000 a month, depending on experience, are critical to minimise shutdowns and increase throughput, according to Plum Jobs.

“We are also hiring more data-driven supply chain management professionals as organisations increase their investment in supply chain management, including logistics, to deliver faster and cheaper. Their salaries can range between Dh30,000 and Dh50,000 per month, depending on the size of the organisation,” Ms Sud says.

Meanwhile, strategic HR and talent leaders are also in demand in the UAE’s oil and gas industry. They must be capable of developing strategies to hire graduates and millennials, upskilling an ageing workforce that is not technology proficient and offering on-the-job training programmes.

“Money is not the only driver and companies need to get ahead of the talent gap and have the right people to hand over the wealth of knowledge and experience that the retiring employees have,” Ms Sud says.

To enable organisations to build their long-term talent pipeline, it requires a forward-thinking HR leader with commercial and strong people skills and high-calibre candidates are offered salaries in the range of Dh40,000 to Dh60,000 a month, she says.

Engineering leadership roles are also highly sought after in the UAE’s oil and gas sector. Salaries vary considerably for these roles and range from Dh30,000 to Dh55,000 a month, depending on the size of organisation, according to the Plum Jobs data.

“Today’s leadership requires transformation skills that drive knowledge transfer, continuous learning and technology adoption in an age where the right technology, when used effectively, enables people to focus on value-driven activities and less on mundane tasks, which can be automated,” Ms Sud says.

However, many organisations in the industry still rely on traditional methods of recruitment such as recruitment boards, agencies and referrals.

“As the oil and gas sector recovers, it needs to start looking at ways to attract and retain a younger technical workforce,” Ms Sud says.

Meanwhile, data from recruitment experts Hays Middle East shows that jobs currently in demand in the UAE’s oil and gas industry include those for the roles of project managers, senior reservoir engineers, senior drilling engineers, senior process engineers and senior maintenance engineers.

“A project manager needs to have minimum 15 years’ experience in oil and gas projects, combined with onshore and offshore project management expertise working with national companies in the Middle East,” says Githin Cleetus, recruitment consultant at Hays Middle East. “They must have a bachelor’s degree in engineering and salaries range from Dh55,000 to Dh65,000 per month.”

A senior reservoir engineer must have at least 12 years’ experience in reservoir or geoscience engineering, Mr Cleetus says. A master’s or bachelor’s degree in reservoir or petroleum engineering is mandatory. Salaries range from Dh40,000 to Dh55,000 a month for these candidates.

“Senior drilling engineers need minimum 10 years’ experience in well-related drilling operations in perforating, stimulating, coiled tubing and testing operations, either offshore or onshore wells,” according to Mr Cleetus.

They need a bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering or related engineering discipline and are entitled to a monthly salary ranging from Dh38,000 to Dh46,000, according to Hays.

Senior process engineers are required to have a minimum of 10 years’ experience working from concept through to engineering, procurement and construction, with a focus on upstream experience in oil and gas projects, Mr Cleetus says.

They need a degree in chemical engineering and can earn a monthly salary that is between Dh28,000 and Dh38,000, Hays data shows.

A senior maintenance engineer, on the other hand, is eligible for a monthly salary in the range of Dh22,000 to Dh34,000, according to Hays.

“They need to have a bachelor’s degree in any relevant engineering discipline,” Mr Cleetus says. “They must have a minimum 10 years’ experience in maintenance, inspection and risk-based maintenance with computerised maintenance and inspection management system, either in the petrochemical, refining, oil and gas exploration and production industry.”

All these jobs are advertised in Oil and Gas Job Search, Energy Jobline and Rigzone, according to Hays.

Updated: November 23rd 2021, 6:06 AM
In-demand jobs and monthly salaries
  • Technology expert in robotics and automation: Dh20,000 to Dh40,000 
  • Energy engineer: Dh25,000 to Dh30,000 
  • Production engineer: Dh30,000 to Dh40,000 
  • Data-driven supply chain management professional: Dh30,000 to Dh50,000 
  • HR leader: Dh40,000 to Dh60,000 
  • Engineering leader: Dh30,000 to Dh55,000 
  • Project manager: Dh55,000 to Dh65,000 
  • Senior reservoir engineer: Dh40,000 to Dh55,000 
  • Senior drilling engineer: Dh38,000 to Dh46,000 
  • Senior process engineer: Dh28,000 to Dh38,000 
  • Senior maintenance engineer: Dh22,000 to Dh34,000 
  • Field engineer: Dh6,500 to Dh7,500
  • Field supervisor: Dh9,000 to Dh12,000
  • Field operator: Dh5,000 to Dh7,000
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