British oil engineers in demand in North Africa

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The Independent Online

British engineers are flooding to work on oil rigs in North Africa as post-Arab Spring nations such as Libya and Egypt ramp up production under their new regimes.

Oil engineers have seen their average global wage soar by 50 per cent to £1,500 a day in the past year, as higher production in North Africa has increased demand for their skills, which was already strong because of the hydrocarbon booms in Australia and South America, according to Interim Partners, the recruitment consultancy.

The pay rate applies to engineers typically working on projects lasting between six months and two years.

Oil companies have been piling into North Africa recently, with BP, Shell, Cairn Energy, France's Total and Genel, a London-listed explorer headed by former BP chief executive Tony Hayward, either operating there or planning to soon.

Jonathan Mooney, an Interim Partners consultant, said his clients are demanding twice as many temporary engineers now as a year ago, and that Britain is providing many of the workers North Africa needs because the UK is seen as a centre of excellence due to the North Sea fields.

"North African governments are under intense pressure to grow their economies and cut employment … but they do not have the strength in depth to bring their energy industries up to speed quickly without help from overseas," he said.