Oil and Gas Jobs in High Risk Political Areas

Oil and gas jobs offer a variety of work opportunities for both skilled and unskilled workers, with many companies seeking help on projects around the globe. From oil rigging offshore all the way to admin jobs, engineering positions and other shore-based job roles, many jobs within this field are known for the often challenging conditions that are faced – particularly for those working in areas that are deemed to be politically high risk zones.

A large part of this is that within the oil and gas sector, moving into untamed areas that are rich in oil fields, hydrocarbon deposits and other natural energy resources means entering parts of the world that are not considered typical tourist regions. Extensive security measures put into place by major oil companies help to reduce the risk faced by workers considerably, but nevertheless, it is still important to understand which areas have higher risks than others in order to be fully aware of any possible risk factors when pursuing oil and gas jobs.
Which Countries Are Considered High Risk for Oil and Gas Jobs?
Some of the highest risk areas are labelled as such either for their increased political tension, unrest, conflict, kidnapping risk or other factors that increase the risk to visitors. Top high risk areas in the world in no particular order include the following:

  1. East Africa. Being at sea on an offshore rig can mean being at sea for long periods of time. In areas known to be targeted by Somali pirates, particularly countries near the coast of Somalia as well as areas such as Kenya, Mozambique and Tanzania (which have begun to develop their gas resources), this makes East Africa a valid candidate for the high risk area list. The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) listed 138 piracy incidents at sea within the first 6 months of this year alone. Cargo vessels and privately owned boats are common targets, but as the natural gas sectors expand, rigs are starting to get more attention too.
  1. North Africa. Algeria is a particular hot-spot for hostage situations involving foreigners, with a major attack in January 2013 taking place that saw 39 hostages from 9 different countries being killed. Among those, BP and Statoil lost 9 employees. Islamist insurgents fighting against Algeria and other countries within the Maghreb region, as well as additional tension in Libya have led to a number of struggles, making this another area on the high risk list.
  1. Nigeria and the Gulf of Guinea. A major player in the oil and gas sector, Nigeria is also known as a kidnapping hotspot as well as a potential risk zone due to its long-standing history of conflict and unrest. Offshore attacks off the coast of West Africa are also on the rise, with some 31 incidents reports during the first half of 2013, which ranged from piracy to armed robbery, as well as 4 cases of hijacking in the Gulf of Guinea. IMB reported an increase in kidnappings at sea, with more variety in the ships being targeted. On land, incidents such as the kidnapping of former Nigerian Oil Minister Shettima Ali Monguno in May by the Boko Haram Islamist group took place in May this year – luckily without further trouble as he was released a few days later.
  1. Colombia. Global risk and security firm KCS Group released a report in 2012 titled “Country Risk & Threat Advisory Report” that listed Colombia as a high risk area for oil workers. This is largely due to revolutionary groups such as FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia) and ELN (Ejército de Liberación Nacional). Typical targets include those in agribusiness, as well as merchants and traders, and even children taken to pressure parents into paying ransoms, but in the past decade and a half, there has been an increase in abductions of oil workers in areas where revolutionary groups are active.
  1. Iraq. While many oil projects take place in the south of Iraq, it is natural for workers to be concerned about the ongoing conflict taking place within much of the country. After a brutal invasion and battle with US troops, Iraq has remained a volatile destination. In recent years, the insurgence of Islamist militant group ISIS (Islamic State) has caused further tensions and violence. There have been some cases of oil and gas workers being kidnapped, and in 2007, the country’s Deputy Oil Minister Abdel Jabar al-Wagaa was kidnapped.

As long as rigs and oil companies continue to provide their workers with a high level of security, and updated security risk reports are followed to keep track of potential conflict or other concerns, there is no cause for alarm or panic. Travel warnings help to provide an updated report on which areas are unsafe to work or visit, and your recruiter will also advise on safety conditions and expectations when considering oil and gas jobs in potentially high risk areas to further help your peace of mind.