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Recruiters assess post-Chavez opportunities in Venezuela

Thu, 7 Mar 2013
Oil & Gas
The death of Venezuela’s socialist president of 14 years Hugo Chavez has led to the possibility of the market opening up – and recruiters with interests in the region and its significant oil industry are showing cautious optimism for long-term opportunities.

However, UK-headquartered oil & gas giant BP tells Recruiter that it no longer has business in the area, and is not taking an interest in the market.

According to a 2011 bulletin from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Venezuela has the largest proven crude oil reserves of any country in the world, while the CIA World Factbook shows that in the same year it was the world’s 14th-most prolific producer of crude.

A BP spokesperson tells Recruiter that the company sold its Venezuelan business at the end of 2011, as part of a wider plan to sell off non-strategic business following the 2010 US Gulf Coast oil spill.

And the spokesperson added that its business looked at resources first and markets second. “First we look at the rocks, and then we look at the political situation,” Recruiter is told. The firm is not looking at Venezuela at the moment, “but that has nothing to do with Chavez”.

Patrick Hollard, the executive board director of recruitment group PageGroup, responsible for Latin America and the Southern and Western US, tells Recruiter the firm has thus far undertaken “very few” recruitment briefs in Venezuela, and all through its Colombian offices.

Oil gas factory worker
“Both countries are quite interconnected and you find a lot of executives from Venezuela working in Bogota,” Hollard adds. Regarding the new era in Venezuela, “it is still an early call but we definitely see Venezuela as a great opportunity if market conditions opened up there”, he goes on to say.

Concurring with this longer-term view, Tom Reid, a manager at global energy recruiter Spencer Ogden, says: “For the time being we are not expecting the landscape to change much in the short term apart from some expected political transition.

“Chavez's political party [which remains in power] is still very much in favour in the country but the hope, and the assumption, is that with Chavez gone capital flow will be more consistent to energy projects which will open up new opportunities to bring skills into the region.”

•    Click for more on the oil & gas recruitment market from Recruiter, including a Sector Focus from the December 2012 edition of the magazine.
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