The major shake-up in the international oil business following the crash in the price of crude will eventually lead to a stronger industry, according to an Aberdeen executive search expert, Michael Diamond, managing partner at Diamond Cooper.
There is long-term potential for many new jobs being created in areas such as decommissioning, but there is no benefit in looking at the current health of the sector through rose-tinted glasses.
"The coming months will continue to be challenging for all companies and people involved in the industry,” said Diamond.
"However, we are at our very core a resourceful sector which has a knack of re-inventing itself and bouncing back from challenges of all sorts.
"We can only hope that the industry as a whole will look back at this current oil price dip as a positive moment that inspired innovation, challenged common thinking and served as shock treatment to ensure a more pragmatic and collaborative approach to developing our resources.
"We will hopefully see more new ideas, innovative business models and a longer-term investment and decision making cycle which will factor in volatile oil prices, even when we eventually return to the comparative luxury of US$100 oil.
"But if analysts are to be believed, we may need to endure and adapt to sub-$60 a barrel oil for a prolonged period of time."
The plunge in the price of crude had starkly exposed the inefficiencies and mismanagement that exploration and production and oilfield services companies had all too often been able to get away previously.
"Cost inflation was getting out of hand, but this was disguised by the high oil price. However, industry leaders now need to get expenditure firmly under control in order to survive," said Diamond.
Though there has been much pain on the job front recently, there are some positives emerging for the industry.
"As the rate of North Sea decommissioning activity accelerates, there is a lucrative opportunity for oilfield services companies in areas such as well plug and abandonment, which will create a heightened and sustained need for professionals in this space and across the well-intervention market,” said Diamond. "Aberdeen is likely to be at the forefront of creating best practice in decommissioning, which will hopefully lead to a global demand for local skills and companies, much like the subsea sector.
At executive leadership and board level, Diamond Cooper is finding that current market conditions are driving two specific areas of activity.
One is where boards of companies are taking the opportunity to replace their CEO and other leadership positions.
"There is a different set of skills, experience and attitude required by management teams during a more challenging time than that of $100-plus oil," said Diamond.
The second area of activity is where more opportunistic and well-financed companies are looking to bolster their existing team with additional talent, a move which will reap benefits when the industry recovers.
Image: Michael Diamond/Ian Forsyth Media