According to the report of the Professional Petroleum Engineering Council, of October 2019, 11,437 petroleum engineers are registered in the country, of which 42% were unemployed, 49% worked in the industry and the remaining 8% in other sectors. These figures correspond to a year in which the industry was recovering, with an oil price in the order of US $ 60 a barrel, and yet unemployment remained high.
The crisis will pass and industries will recover, but the workforce is the most affected and it may be even worse given the double condition of falling prices and the pandemic. The unions of the sector estimate that human resources could be affected with layoffs of up to 72% in the entire value chain of this industry, with a slowdown in this index if conditions of energy demand and oil prices do not recover soon.
All the actors in this sector have implemented strategies, seeking to take care of private interests. However, the circumstances of the current scenario are unprecedented and what is anticipated is that the consequences that the labor force will face will be aggravated by isolation, which limits the ability to dedicate themselves to other trades while the crisis passes. Given this situation, a spirit of solidarity is required throughout the value chain, allowing the impact to be received proportionally and equitably by the entire sector.
Reflection, with the circumstances of today’s life, indicates that the common denominator is happiness. At the end of the day, society, institutions, government, companies and the workforce, we constitute human beings to whom the condition of life, which we are currently passing, has surely led us to question about the values that must prevail.
And if everyone, from the positions in which we have to face this situation, make efforts to make the general happiness index higher, innovative proposals would surely appear on how to get through this crisis without succumbing to the attempt.
In this sense, proposals may arise such as, that the Government set the price of the barrel produced for consumption in Colombia, or the implementation of unemployment insurance, that the shareholders of the companies consider the reduction of profitability goals, which high Executives reduce their bonuses and salaries temporarily, unions suspend some of the most onerous agreements in the specifications, that communities allow operating and reducing local service rates, and that workers accept in critical conditions licenses, the reduction of working hours and compensation, or the suspension of contracts while the crisis is overcome.
Oil engineers and professionals in the sector have assimilated in past crises the consequences of actions, such as the cancellation of projects, suspension of service contracts and layoffs of personnel. We must also face this new scenario, but we consider that there is an opportunity to face this situation in a more assertive way among all. These and all other proposed actions must measure their impact, not only from the economic and viability point of view, but from the degree of happiness.
Carlos Alberto Leal Niño
President JD Acipet