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Middle East oil and gas workforce

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

Iraq and Kurdistan

Given the growth in Kurdistan and northern Iraq, NES has said that it is seeing a great deal of growth in operation and drilling services, with in demand disciplines including subsurface, project services and operations and maintenance. In southern Iraq, existing oilfields are also moving from strength to strength and are creating further job opportunities in the region. Abu Dhabi is however, according to NES, seeing the greatest demand for engineers with offshore project experience and is looking to take oil production to over 1 million bpd in the next six years.

Middle Eastern talent

In Kurdistan companies are working hard to develop skills in the country and to ensure knowledge transfer occurs. However, NES believes that while the talent pool Kurdistan is deepening, there are not enough workers with the correct skills to go around, meaning that it is necessary to boost workforce numbers by bringing in engineers from around the world.

When it comes to Abu Dhabi, it appears that the majority of workers are being recruited from the subcontinent in India and South East Asia. In Iraq and Kurdistan, the majority of both skilled and unskilled workers are local nationals, but on oil and gas projects there are a significant amount of skilled expats from a number of countries.

Middle East versus UK and US challenges

When it comes to working in the Middle East, as opposed to the UK or US, there are different challenges to be faced. Security is one factor, especially in locations such as Iraq. However, as long as robust safety and security support is offered, the industry can ensure it attracts the talent it needs. NES has security experts that partner with Control Risks and TravelTracker to help keep up to date with developments globally.

Salary expectations in the Middle East

The Middle East has been the world’s largest oil and gas producing region for a very long time and increased activity across the region is creating further job opportunities. Due to this, and to the fact that there are some of the biggest oil and gas projects in the world in the region, it is a favourable place to build a career. Abu Dhabi is also reportedly a very family friendly area. When it comes to salaries, they are not a lot higher overall, however, the benefits packages are very competitive and the skills to be learnt in the Middle East help boost earning potential.


Vikram Nanda, NES Global Talent Operations Manager, Iraq said, "Iraqi Kurdistan is one of the hottest spots globally for the oil and gas industry. The size of the oil market has attracted many leading operators and huge amounts of investment. Currently, the majority of companies are at exploration stage and once this turns to production the need for manpower will increase significantly.

"In northern Iraq and Kurdistan we are seeing a great deal of growth in operation and drilling services, with in demand disciplines including subsurface project services and operations and maintenance while in southern Iraq, existing oilfields such as Rumaila are also going from strength to strength and creating more and more job opportunities."

Adapted from a press release by Claira Lloyd.

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