The oil and gas industry is constantly shifting and professionals need to keep their knowledge up-to-date and their skills sharp in order to navigate the changing landscape.

Dr Ronald Dyer, University of Liverpool faculty member and expert in risk and uncertainty in project management, discusses the recent changes in the oil and gas industry and what professionals should be aware of in terms of business opportunities.

What is happening in the oil and gas industry today?

Prices have plummeted more than 70% from the highs of 2014 as the world’s biggest producers, including Saudi Arabia, Russia and the US are still pumping at near-record pace in order to compete for customers. (wallstreetjournal.com)

“In the past few years there have been two key events that have been driving key markets, particularly the US, away from a reliance on external providers,” says Dr Dyer. “One of the events is the move away from fossil fuel to renewable energy due to climate change. The other has been the advent of shale production, which both the US and Canada are extremely good at.”

The price of oil

Crude oil was down 42% in 2015 alone (money.cnn.com). The advent of shale production, particularly the producers in the USA, has created competition with the markets in the Arab states, Latin America and the Middle East.

“What we have now is overproduction. There is so much oil that at this point in time we have the equivalent of a four year surplus – too much to raise the price in the short term. You can get a barrel of oil for the price of a good meal these days,” says Dr Dyer.

Who is benefiting?

“For the consumer there is a real positive in terms of oil prices, especially in terms of ‘at the pump’ and consumer durables. We’ve seen a vast reduction in the price in everything from food, cars, plastics and other consumer-durables from phones to Tupperware,” he says. Airlines are also benefiting and are going to have cheaper fuel for the next 12-24 months based on present supply.

Renewable energy

If you’re looking at the future of energy Dr Dyer has some advice. “Keep your eye on renewable energy, particularly solar and wind, and the automotive industry and the shift towards electric cars.

The more we move towards that market the less reliance there is on petrol. Eventually, five years from now, we might have 20 million electric cars on the road. Think of what that is going to mean for the petrol pump”.

How can modern professionals be prepared?

Professionals within the oil and gas industry need a better understanding of emerging technology and how it can impact their decision-making.

“You need more than just the engineering knowledge of how to get the oil out of the ground. You have to understand how a volatile market impacts process and what technologies can and might disrupt the industry. For example, five years ago we’d never heard of a driverless car, yet today it’s a reality.

You need the ability to understand the external environment and developments that may not be necessarily directly aligned to your environment but are on the periphery and starting to grow.”

A knowledge of international business and politics is also vital, says Dr Dyer. “Oil and gas is not just about competition between companies it’s about geopolitics and who dominates the market. It’s all about understanding where to put the money before everyone else.”

Degree courses catered to oil and gas

Dr Dyer advises professionals who want to move ahead in careers in the oil and gas sector to choose a master's programme that gives them the analytical skills and strategic knowledge to navigate the market.

The University of Liverpool offers a variety of management masters degrees online, but three are specifically tailored for oil and gas professionals: MSc in Project Management – Oil and Gas, MSc in Operations and Supply Chain Management - Oil and Gas and MSc in Management – Oil and Gas.

The University of Liverpool online degrees are designed to help working professionals to develop the knowledge and skills needed to understand the competitive market and external drivers – technological, political or otherwise – that will affect the market over the long term.

“Our online management degrees specialising in oil and gas all provide an understanding of the market from an economic standpoint. They’re not risk or finance classes but they will help you to have a better understanding of how these things impact on navigating the landscape,” says Dr Dyer.

Current and practical learning

“Our programmes are current and practical, encouraging students to keep up to date with what’s going on in the industry,” says Dr Dyer.

By collaborating closely in the online classroom, students exchange the latest industry insights. Students will be given a topic and asked to conduct research using journals, websites and news and will write assignments based on this well-researched knowledge. Then classmates from all over the world, who work in different industries and sectors, will build on that idea and provide feedback.

The expectation is you’re drawing on current material and experiences from different sectors from all over the world. The discussion board is an element of the online master's programmes that’s designed to ensure learning is current and with a global perspective.

Find out more about the University of Liverpool online management courses and see if an online master's degree with a specialisation in oil and gas could benefit your career.

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