Dominic Simpson, Rigzone, looks at the issue of gender diversity within the oil and gas sector in one of the industry’s growth spots – Asia.
When the lights in Europe all but went off in 2008 following the financial melt-down, two lights continued to shine – one from the west in the form of US shale gas, and the other from the east. And while views on the much feted natural resources ‘super-cycle’ have had to be significantly toned down in the intervening years due to the inevitable slow-down in GDP growth rates in China and India and the subsequent wake of casualties for junior explorers, one constant has emerged: Asia’s rapacious appetite for energy. Indeed, this led the International Energy Association (IEA) to recently note that China, already recognised as the world’s greatest consumer of energy, will soon surpass the US as the largest consumer of oil. And then after 2020, the IEA expects the mantel to be passed onto India.
While the IEA and others may view this phenomenon as an opportunity for the OPEC members to up output, it is also driving a raft of investment and exploration activity closer to the region – most notably in China and India and to a lesser extent the ASEAN member regions. Indeed, during the last six months China has repeatedly indicated its intentions to reduce its dependence on oil imports. According to the Ministry of Land and Resources from January this year, China imported nearly 57% of the oil it refined from January to November in 2013, similar to the previous year. However, according to the same state sources, by 2030 China intends to be producing 60% of its oil consumption domestically as a result of major development initiatives in China’s western regions. Similarly, India has ambitious development plans for its oil reserves.
For support service companies, such as Rigzone, this next wave of development in the Asia region provides exciting opportunities. However, based on the recent BP-Rigzone Global Diversity Report published in December 2013, significant human resource challenges lie ahead in the region - particularly for those oil majors wanting to break off the shackles of being seen as a male dominated industry.
To explain, during the second half of 2013 some 3000 oil and gas professionals from around the world participated in the survey on female representation within the oil and gas industry.
Around a quarter of the respondents were from Asia. However, their profile was very different. In the US and Americas the percentage of female respondents in each region was 21% and 14% respectively. By contrast, only 5% of the survey respondents based in Asia were women. Only Africa had a lower female representation, with the Middle East ranking marginally ahead of Asia.
The Asia based respondents nevertheless felt the numbers reflected an underlying improvement in the situation – nearly three quarters reckoning that not only has gender diversity improved within the industry within recent years but that career prospects for women have also improved over the same time period.
Indeed, 42% of the Asia based respondents believed the oil and gas industry is doing a ‘quite’ or ‘very’ good job in ensuring it achieves a diverse work-force by gender. Only 21% felt the industry was doing a poor job.
Given the low numbers of female respondents, this might seem surprising for western readers. The two most cited reasons by the Asia based respondents as to why women were not wishing to join the industry were family caring responsibilities and societal conditioning. In the US, the family caring factor was far less of a concern, the bigger issue being the lack of qualified female talent entering the industry.
As a result, a range of initiatives were viewed by Asia-based oil and gas professionals as being of high importance for improving female representation within the industry in the region.
Interestingly, the two most referenced were ensuring ‘transparency of promotion practices’ and ‘transparency of remuneration’ suggesting there is a need to look after those already in the industry, whilst reaching out to attract more talent into the sector. After the transparency points, establishing a schools programme to attract young females into engineering was viewed as the next most important step to be taken, closely followed by improving childcare benefits.
For Rigzone, we are committed to working with the oil companies on initiatives that ensure that the industry is better able to attract the best talent regardless of gender. And in reality that means getting into the school classroom as well as the universities to awake the first grains of interest in young minds about exploration, engineering, the oil and gas industry, and the products derived from oil. They are not only topics both girls and boys can get excited about from a young age if introduced in the right manner, they can also help lead people into a highly rewarding industry.
To read more about the Global Diversity and Inclusion Report, please click here.
Adapted by David Bizley
Read the article online at: https://www.oilfieldtechnology.com/exploration/03022014/asia_rising_star_and_the_human_resource_challenges_ahead/