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News Article

Several Options Available to Build Mexico’s Oil & Gas Talent Pool

Wed, 01/21/2015 - 23:32

The fall in oil prices was followed by a wave of layoffs from PEMEX. While this might seem like a tragedy to many, it provided a great window of opportunity for IPS Powerful People, an international recruitment and payroll company with over 27 years of experience. Guido van der Zwet, Business Manager for Latin America of iPS Powerful People, believes PEMEX is trying to eliminate redundant positions. “In companies like Shell, BP, and Petrobras, one person matches one position. To avoid unnecessary expenses, PEMEX is aiming for that efficiency in order to compete with international companies.” In anticipation of oil prices going up once more by the second half of 2015, as some analysts predict, iPS Powerful People is trying to reach many of those affected by the recent layoffs. “This forecast, along with the results of the bidding rounds that are scheduled to be announced in July, will enable us to have a clearer picture of where the entire industry will be headed by the end of 2015,” says Van Der Zwet. iPS Powerful People is preparing

for the intense recruitment that is likely to take place. Layoffs have been happening all around the world, which means that skilled professionals from different markets have become available. For Van Der Zwet, this provides great opportunity to overcome some obstacles Mexico will face very soon. For instance, Mexico has barely any expertise in deepwater operations and will need experienced foreign talent to develop this segment. Van Der Zwet says the natural trend will be for those foreign professionals to train the locals, to transfer knowledge to the Mexican workforce. For iPS Powerful People, therefore, bringing in talent from abroad should always be considered an option. Importing talent has its pros and cons, which Van Der Zwet is swift to explain. “For instance, most foreigners do not speak Spanish, which limits their chances in some positions available in Mexico. Salaries are another important aspect that is determined by supply and demand. At the moment, as a result of all the layoffs, salaries are trending downward. However, I believe that  the salaries will recover as soon as the Round One process concludes, which is when the real projects will begin.” Salaries will also play an important role when preparing economic proposals for tenders, which must consider personnel costs for projects that are expected to have a duration of at least 25 years. “This sort of information is necessary to being negotiations with PEMEX, CNH, or SENER,” he comments. These challenges are not to be overlooked, and Van Der Zwet highlights the importance of tender managers in order to have this information available.

Overall, Van Der Zwet believes salaries in Mexico are quite competitive, although this is a matter of perspective. For instance, when compared to countries like the Philippines or India, Mexican salaries are 40% higher while significantly lower than the US, Europe, or even Brazil. Travelling costs are another aspect that should be considered. For example, given the temporary nature of certain missions within the oil and gas industry, flying someone within Mexico is more cost-effective than flying someone from another country. “For PEMEX contracts, particularly in the case of contracts for platforms, periods as short as 14 days are contemplated.

Moving people around every 14 days is rather expensive,” comments Van Der Zwet. Conversely, importing talent can lead to increased knowledge in sectors such as deepwater, and the development of new skills. For Van Der Zwet, this is an added value of hiring foreigners. The cultural differences can also be an advantage. “Summarizing, the pros I see are expertise, knowledge and determination; the cons would be working under PEMEX’s rules, local salaries, travelling costs, and the language barrier,” he concludes.

Another niche of knowledgeable people consists of those who are retiring from PEMEX. “We are aware that throughout 2015 and 2016, over 6,400 PEMEX staff will retire and the NOC will only try to retain around 30% of them,” tells Van Der Zwet. He adds that foreign companies sometimes recruit former PEMEX workers as consultants to advise on how to handle collaborating with PEMEX. Such a need is only set to increase, given the number of projects PEMEX is likely to seek partners on. “It is important to have these people and to know that they are out there. However, it is equally important to identify the ones that can really bring the most value to one company’s activities.”