Norwegian-UK Gas Pipeline Laid In the North Sea

In a bid to attract younger generations to the international oil & gas business, Maersk Group recently launched a Sims-style computer game designed to simulate the high-stakes challenges that come with finding, producing and transporting oil in harsh environments.

“We believe we have a very fascinating story to tell about the oil & gas industry, so we thought developing a strategy game would be a good way to bring our story out – the story about technology deployment, the story about difficult decisions, the story about managing uncertainty – bringing that out to people’s living rooms and people’s classrooms to tell the story about the business and attract more young people and students to the business,” Jakob Thomasen, Maersk Oil CEO told Breaking Energy.

The global oil industry is bracing itself for a massive wave of retirement that threatens to hit many companies with a “brain drain” not easily backfilled due to an age gap in the existing workforce. Often referred to as the “Great Shift Change,” such a large-scale loss of institutional and technical knowledge can be a huge challenge for companies operating some of the world’s largest industrial projects.

“A recent survey on the North Sea oil industry found that 70% of employers are “struggling” to recruit quality candidates and the recruitment crisis is “set to get worse.” The survey also revealed mass skills shortages across the industry, with 25% of companies failing to find enough engineers. There were also shortages in drilling specialists (38%), subsea specialists (75%), HSE [Health, Safety & Environment] specialists (37%), project engineers (65%) and geoscientists (25%),” Maersk said in a statement.

Choosing to operate in the North Sea or Qatar, video game players must evaluate maps and subsurface seismic data to locate prospective oil deposits, drill exploration wells and if they are skillful enough to strike hydrocarbons, they must then make decisions about how to economically produce, transport and sell the resources. The first to reach a production target without blowing their operating budget is declared the winner.

The free game can be downloaded from Maersk’s website and there is no need to worry about a company recruiter contacting high scorers, joked Thomasen.

“The industry has done a great job managing through the big crew change, as we call it, and a lot of new people have entered the business in recent years. The purpose of our game is to address school children and younger students, not people we are looking to recruit today or tomorrow, but for the next generations that are to come. And it’s our attempt to modernize the communication and dialogue with the youngsters, but also with the more mature people who can have a little fun learning about our business,” Thomasen said.

Maersk currently produces oil and gas in Qatar, Denmark, the UK, Nigeria and a bit in Brazil. The company has exploration and development activities in the US Gulf of Mexico and other locations including deepwater offshore Angola.

A subsidiary of global shipping conglomerate A.P. Moller – Maersk Group, Maersk Oil ranked 76 in the 2011 Energy Intelligence Top 100: Ranking the World’s Oil Companies, which is based on operational criteria. The company produces about 600,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day.