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Survey: U.S. Oil and Gas Salaries Competitive

Despite continuing uncertainty over the world economy, optimism is running high that salaries at oil and gas companies will increase over the next year.

The 32-page survey "Oil & Gas Global Salary Guide 2011" was released by the firm Oil and Gas Job Search and Hays PLC, a recruitment and consulting firm based in Sydney, Australia. More than 10,800 people were polled for the survey -- including more than 3,900 identified as employers in the industry -- from more than 50 countries between September and October 2010.

Although just under half of survey respondents said their salaries had increased within the last year, three-fourths said they believe salaries will increase within the next 12 months. Of those, 21.6% believe salaries will climb 10% or more. By comparison, in 2010 only 42% of respondents thought salaries would go up in a year.

"We are pleased to see optimism in the industry continues to rise after a couple of tough years," Hays spokesman Matt Underhill said. "This optimism has yet to overheat the market and consequently it is a good market for both recruiters and job seekers."

The survey found that the average annual salary at oil and gas companies in the U.S. totaled $117,000 in 2011, but the global annual average salary was $75,813, an amount relatively unchanged from 2010. The top five countries in salary were, in order, Australia, Norway, Canada, the Netherlands and the United States.

"It has been a year of great change," the report said, adding that the global recession began to affect the oil and gas industry beginning in 2008, but the worst had passed by late 2009. "However, permanent salary trends by their nature lag behind the economic state of the industry and salaries continued to fall. It was only in 2010 that we saw permanent packages stabilize and then start to climb," in 2Q2010 and 3Q2010.

The survey broke down annual salaries based on discipline area and company type. Average annual salaries ranged from a low of $23,300 for maintenance workers with less than five years experience to a high of $146,400 for employees in the business development and commercial sectors with more than 20 years of service. Meanwhile, workers at oilfield services companies with less than five years experience were paid the lowest average annual salary of $39,200, while operator company employees with more than 20 years experience were paid a high of $141,300.

"This mirrors a move by many companies seeking to expand their (post-recession) market share," the report said. "Experienced professionals in drilling and geoscience continue to attract above-average remuneration in line with last year's figures."

The survey also found that the average global salary for those entering the industry ranged from $35,000 to $45,000.

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