(EnergyAsia, March 22 2012, Thursday) — Exploration and production spending is expected to rise in Asia in 2012, creating an environment ripe for oil and gas professionals to switch jobs, even though employers are frequently offering incentives to keep them in their current position, said Rigzone, a leading online resource for oil and gas information, data and talent recruitment.

More than one-third (34%) of Asia-based oil and gas professionals noted their company had offered them positive incentives in the last six months to stay in their current position, according to a global survey by Rigzone.

Tops on the list of inducements for Asia-based oil and gas professionals: larger salaries, followed by challenging assignments, promotion, working in a new location and retention bonuses.

These incentives, more often than not, were put on the table after the employee was offered a competing position, said Rigzone.

Its survey found that 59% of respondents were offered incentives as part of a counteroffer, exceeding the rate in other regions including the Middle East (58%), South America or Africa (54%).

However, Rigzone found that just 24% of US-based oil and gas professionals had to utilise a new job offer as a bargaining chip.

“This give and take atmosphere creates a vibrant recruiting environment; however, the level of counteroffers in Asia is quite high. Companies need to be more proactive in retaining energy talent, before they have another opportunity and risk losing a valuable employee,” said John Benson, managing director (energy) of Dice Holdings Inc.

Asia-based energy professionals are optimistic that it would be easy to find a new position in their area of specialty, with 44% confident of their prospects.

However, more than one-third (35%) of respondents felt obtaining a new position would be hard, while another 21% were unsure.

Petroleum engineers in the region were most assured in the ease of finding a new position, followed by drilling and production professionals.

More than three-quarters (76%) of Asia-based oil and gas professionals have been contacted by recruiters dangling new career opportunities in the last six months. Design and construction engineers are most frequently contacted, followed by maritime and drilling professionals.

As a result, energy professionals in the region capitalised on the offers and left for greener pastures.

Thirty-eight percent of respondents noted that voluntary departures in their department are higher than last year, while 41% have noticed no change. This compares to just 7% who have seen a decline in colleagues quitting their positions from a year ago.

Rigzone conducted its email survey from January 2 to January 9 2012, receiving responses from more than 27,800 employed professionals, with 6,245 identified as working or residing in the Asia. About 48% of the respondents were in Southern Asia, 36% were in Central Asia and 16% in the Far East.

Duplicate responses from a single IP address were removed. Margin of error is +/- one percent, said Rigzone.