To understand the changes that occur cyclically in engineering manpower supply/demand trends in the petroleum industry, it is desirable to have an awareness of some of the major activities and factors affecting such trends; of starting Petroleum Engineering salaries relating to that background; of the on-going engineering salary status which developed from these activities; and of the large effect that high starting and on-going salaries do have in attracting and retaining engineers within the petroleum industry. It is important to realize that changes in industry trends can be brought about both by economic and political decisions, in both domestic and international activities.


There is no single entity or group, which by itself sets the climate for engineering manpower trends in all of the parts of the petroleum industry. Rather, it is set by the political and economic decisions of nations affecting the industry, and by the interactions of a very large number of companies and individuals, from the diverse and multiple parts of the industry, in creating demand for engineers of the various types and levels needed by their organizations.

Each organization must continually monitor and find ways to meet its needs for engineers for the present and foreseeable future, as to the various engineering subfunctions which must be filled in drilling, production, reservoir, process, mechanical, electrical, and other engineering activities.

As shown on computer runs made in July, 1987, the principle interests of SPE's U.S. members in all grades except students (Table 1) indicate the wide range of activities in which they are involved. Their type of industry affiliation, as shown by the type of company business (Table 2), gives further indication of the wide-ranging industry coverage, as does their job category (Table 3). To fill the diverse needs we would expect to draw from a broad source, and indeed this is what is shown by their educational background (Table 4).

The ways in which an individual organization in the petroleum industry could meet its needs for both new and experienced engineers, (Table 5), provides insight into the varied management styles possible in this function.

Availability of engineering personnel to fill specific assignments where these engineers would have the scholastic background in that specific area, varies over the cycles of high and low demand, and most organizations adjust their processes to optimize their choices in meeting their needs at reasonable costs in reasonable time frames. The time lag to develop substantially increased supply through the universities will generally require at least three years; and the time tag to substantially reduce the number of graduates coming from the "pipeline" in times of decreased demand also takes 3 or more years.

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