Working in the Oil and Gas sector in Norway
(Updated January 2010)
About the Oil and Gas industry
The petroleum/Oil & Gas sector is Norway’s largest industry and accounts for 24% of national value creation. By 2009, Norway has produced and delivered 38 percent of the expected total oil & gas resources on the Norwegian continental shelf. While 25 per cent are reserves yet to be developed, 25 per cent are undiscovered resources, two thirds of which are expected to be gas and one third oil. Production is now slowing by around 10 per cent per annum as new projects have been delayed and projections adjusted along with the international climate of financial recession. The projected level of activity indicates a reduced rate of growth in the medium to long term.
What is the labour demand in the oil and gas industry?
There is a demand for:
- Senior, experienced engineers (piping, sub-sea, process, electrical, mechanical etc)
- Some skilled personnel within drilling, well-service and maintenance on production platforms, such as drill technicians, construction workers, industrial painters (coating), and industrial isolators.
Only 35 percent of the employees in the oil industry in Norway work offshore. Most oil service and equipment companies also use skilled personnel in occupations that combine onshore and offshore work. Some jobs are found through contact networks and by recommendations. Various skilled candidates may also be able to find work in land-based industry, as unemployment in Norway remains the lowest of all European countries at less than a third of the EU27 average.
How to find work in the Oil and Gas industry?
The Norwegian Employment and Welfare Service (NAV) has a database containing all published vacancies. To search for vacancies, visit www.nav.no. Select “Finne ledige jobber”, select Kategori “Industry, bygg etc.”, Underkategori “Olje, gass, bergverk”, and select region(s). Enter relevant key words (ingeniør, mekanisk, offshore etc.) in the text box below. In some cases you can type these key words in English. Press “Søk”. The same vacancies are to be found at the EURES mobility portal.
Many companies have their own homepages where they publish vacancies. On the Yellow Pages web site www.gulesider.no, you will also find lists of relevant employers.
General information about working and living in Norway is available on www.eures.no. You may contact your nearest EURES adviser for information about working conditions, accommodation, salaries, etc.
Language, education and training requirements
The working languages in the oil industry are Norwegian and English. For safety reasons, fluency is required in at least one of these languages. Most employers prefer proficiency in Norwegian. If Norwegian skills are absent, many employers will require at least a minimum of very good English skills. Norwegians who fulfil the requirements for offshore vacancies will often be preferred.
To find language courses, you should contact the Norwegian embassy/consulate in your home country.
In order to be admitted for work on oil rigs, you need specific safety courses. The safety courses are conducted at schools approved by The National Association of Oil Companies (“OLF - Oljeindustriens landsforening”), which is responsible for the safety on offshore installations. You will find a list of all schools and courses on their homepage. The address is: www.olf.no and www.nutec.no. The courses are expensive and usually conducted in Norwegian. A few courses are offered in English. In addition to the safety course, a medical certificate confirming fitness for work on oil rigs is required. Please note that a safety course and/or medical certificate alone do not qualify you for a job.
Relevant higher education for this sector is typically an engineering degree (3-5 years) in petroleum, petroleum technology, geology/geophysics, drilling, reservoir or similar degrees. Other technical disciplines are applicable, such as IT, project management, logistics etc. For approval of foreign higher education contact the Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education (NOKUT).
Relevant lower education is Polytechnic school diplomas (2-3 years) with petroleum technology, as well as drilling, well service, welding and electrical studies. The oil industry also hires skilled workers in processing, industry mechanics, and other mechanical disciplines. You need to document your skills with a confirmed certificate from school, college or university. In addition you should have relevant work experience and reference persons who can be contacted by a prospective employer.
Wages and taxes
In Norway there is no single legal minimum wage that applies for all branches and professions. But organisations (employers and unions) regularly negotiate wages and working conditions, resulting in a wage agreement ("tariffavtale"). Member companies commit themselves to pay wages according to agreements achieved between the parties. Very often you will find that your wages are set according to the above mentioned wage agreement.
The wages in the industry varies depending on your experience and i.e. engineering discipline. A mechanical engineer with 1-3 years experience may start with a yearly salary of NOK 450 000 (€ 53,000 @ NOK 8,50). Senior engineers will naturally earn more. Offshore supplements/benefits apply.
When you work for a Norwegian employer, you are required to pay tax to Norway. If you reside in Norway for less than six months, special tax rules apply. Bring your employment contract and passport to the nearest tax office ("skattekontor") and apply for a tax card ("skattekort"). You may also contact the Service Centre for Foreign Workers for more information. If you start working without a tax card, the employer will deduct 50% tax. Otherwise, tax usually amounts to around 1/3 of your pay. See www.skatteetaten.no for more information.
Important points to consider
Many Norwegians seeking work on oil rigs already have the required safety course and medical certification, as well as relevant education and experience. Job seekers with this background are naturally preferred by employers, meaning that it may be easier to get a job offshore if you already have experience from the oil and gas sector onshore.
Note that in some countries there might be agencies or persons that exploit job seekers by demanding money for incorrect information and prospects about jobs on oil rigs. Every month oil companies receive hundreds of letters from people from all over the world applying for offshore work. We recommend not sending applications in this way, as this is not the way the companies recruit personnel. Look for actual vacancies on the companies’ websites or at NAV and Finn, and only send an application if you have adequate qualifications.
Below you will find links to related information and some companies in the oil and gas industry.
- www.offshore.no (Industry Journal (in norwegian))
- www.oilinfo.no (Industry Journal – information about employers, vacancies)
- www.olf.no (The Norwegian Oil Industry Association)
- www.udi.no (Directorate of Immigration)
- www.skatteetaten.no (Tax Authorities)
- www.atil.no (Labour Inspection Authority)
- www.eures.no (Guide (for download) and information about living and working in Norway)
Oil and Gas companies:
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