Peter Astley, the series consultant for Oil and Gas 1 and 2, part of the Oxford English for Careers series, gives us an introduction to the oil and gas industry for language learners.
The oil and gas industry has grown from its beginnings in North America and the United Kingdom into an international industry where English is the common language. Although reserves of oil and gas are declining, the world demand for energy is growing. Remaining reserves of hydrocarbons are more difficult to exploit and require challenging engineering and business skills. Countries where oil and gas are found are keen to develop their own industry and the skills and resources of their own people in all the stages of oil and gas development and across the wide range of disciplines and different levels of ability. In this way they can fulfil the aspirations of their own people and improve their long term national economy.
The industry is divided in to two main sections, Upstream and Downstream. The Upstream sector is concerned with extracting reserves and carrying out initial processing to transport the oil and gas to the Downstream sector for further processing, refining, distribution and sales. The Upstream sector is also divided into Offshore and Onshore depending on where the reserves are located.
The industry requires a vast range of skills: scientists and geologists in exploration, engineers and technicians to develop and maintain very expensive capital equipment, production workers, administration personnel and managers, and business specialists managing the complex projects and contracts involved.
In such a specialised industry there are many different disciplines and different levels and so good communication skills are essential. People tend to work in international teams where competency in communicating in English is essential. This is a time when technology is advancing and there is a greater need for qualified people at all levels who in conjunction with their main assignments must plan, design train and enforce high levels of safety and the maximum possible protection of the marine, land and air environment.
With the advance of computer techniques such as technical analysis software, computer aided design and the ability to communicate and work simultaneously in different parts of the world, there are great opportunities for young people to start a satisfying, secure and well paid career in the industry, particularly for those with a good command of the English language.
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