Oil and gas workers in Australia, where a boom in gas export projects is under way, are the highest paid in the world, according to a survey of the industry released this week.
Oil and gas industry workers make an average of nearly $76,000 per year globally, while oil and gas workers in Australia raked in over $140,000 per year, according to the global survey by recruitment firm Hays Oil and Gas.
The report was based on a survey of nearly 11,000 workers in more than 50 countries and conducted in September and October 2010.
Other countries paying top dollar for oil and gas employees included Australia, Canada, USA, Norway and the Netherlands, while those paying the least included Pakistan, India, Philippines, Romania and Iran.
The survey results hinted at one reason for hefty Australian oil and gas salaries -- in Austaralia, skilled labor shortages were by far the biggest concern of employers, with 60 percent saying it was their top worry.
The survey showed signs of industry recovery after the global financial crisis, Hays Oil and Gas managing director Matt Underhill said in the report.
Over the past year, there was a wave of job moves as the market improved, with about a quarter of survey respondents reporting they had been in their current role for a year or less, up from 17 percent a year earlier.
About a third of employers expect to up staffing levels in the next year, according to the survey, and three quarters of those surveyed expect salary increases in the next year.
Globally, there was a trend toward repatriating workers to their country of origin, likely in part to do away with the outsize salaries commanded by expatriate workers during the recent economic downturn, according to the report.
Only two regions -- Australasia and the Middle East -- showed an increase in foreign workers in the survey, a reflection of the regions' recovery from the economic downturn.
Salaries for local workers overall tended to fall well short of those for "imported" labor.
For instance, local workers in Iraq were paid the lowest average salary of nearly $22,000, compared to $94,800 for their foreign counterparts. Papua New Guinea had the highest average annual salary for imported labour at slightly over $197,000, while locals in Papua New Guinea made just over $30,000.
But despite the higher cost, more than 40 percent of employers said they plan to increase the number of expats they employ in the next year.
(Reporting by Rebekah Kebede; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)