Regulatory Experts - Up and Coming Career Opportunities Galore

By Volker Rathman, Collarini Energy Staffing

Evolving regulatory systems in the petroleum industry provides an emerging career path

With the drilling moratorium lifted, the oil and gas industry is trying to figure out how to deal with the onslaught of new regulations. The effects on the job markets have already been felt: Thousands of jobs in the offshore industry were temporarily lost after the moratorium was put in place in the wake of the Macondo incident. 

We say “temporarily,” since over time many of these jobs will come back. This is in no way belittling the effect the loss of jobs has had on those involved and their families. It is stating a belief that our industry is resilient and will come back – stronger and better. 

Well over 80 percent of this country’s energy comes from hydrocarbons. No number of alternative or renewable energy sources will change that percentage quickly. Oil and gas are here to stay; and, frankly, the country needs us to produce hydrocarbons for them, even if the importance is not always realized by many Americans outside of our industry. 

So our take on the future job market is positive. Regulations about to be dealt with by the industry will have an increasing effect on job creation, since many more people will be needed to understand what the new rules mean and to develop the best practices to implement new. Regulatory experts and analysts may apply here!
The role of the regulatory analyst has expanded in all sectors of the oil and gas industry as a result of proposed, new and revised legislation. 

A regulatory analyst's position may include such responsibilities as: 

• Preparing and submitting permitting requests for all new operations activity and any revisions to prior approvals 

• Monitoring and reporting gas and oil production and inventory for company operated wells
• Managing and updating regulatory information and forms 

• Interfacing with local, state and federal regulatory agencies 

An experienced analyst will have prior regulatory permitting and reporting experience for full cycle development planning, drilling completion, workover operations, and field abandonment. The role also requires knowledge of permitting specific to the governing agency and geographic area. 

Additionally with conventional onshore drilling, the process of shale extraction is regulated under a number of laws, most notably at the federal level, the Environmental Protection Agency, The Clean Water Act, The Safe Drinking Water Act, and The National Environmental Policy Act. While the federal agencies administer a general "one-size-fits-all" set of guidelines, the regulatory bodies at the state and local levels may be distinctly different due to geographic location, hydrology, population density, wildlife, climate and local economics. 

This stew of agencies and rules creates career opportunities for experts in each area and for generalists keeping an eye on the big picture and the interface among all parties. 

Experts in this field will be needed in the permitting processes. This will create employment opportunities particularly in the context of: 

• Greenhouse gas and air emissions 

• Noise pollution 

• Erosion and sediment control and 

• Environmental threats to endangered and threatened species 

We do not know how the regulatory scene will play out. We are certain, however, that regulatory compliance needs will not decrease; this could create a boon for those professionals seeking a switch in their careers.

This fast-growing sector of the industry holds promise to any regulatory professional due to the diversity of agency interface, geographic variety and environmental concerns. As industry technological developments and practices improve and legislative requirements continue to evolve, so will the unique opportunities in these regulatory roles.

Volker Rathmann is the President of Collarini Energy Staffing Inc. Prior to joining the firm in 2001, he held the position of Chief Financial Officer for INTEC Engineering, a provider of specialized engineering services in global frontier and deepwater projects. Before INTEC Engineering, Volker held a number of leading positions in operations, marketing and finance within the Daimler AG. Volker earned a Bachelor's degree in business administration in Berlin, Germany.

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