Local companies criticise Shell salaries at Bangalore

Vol 11, PW 3 (14 Jun 07) People & Policy

Shell is coming under fire from domestic upstream operators for “spoiling the marketâ€‌ in salaries with its new R&D centre in Bangalore.

“Guys with only eight years experience are expecting salaries of Rs35 lakhs ($80,000) per annum,â€‌ says one frustrated operator in India. “Bangalore has become like a BPO station for Shell’s upstream activity globally.

Shell is outsourcing its recruitment to India because it is cheaper.â€‌ Shell resents the analogy with BPOs and counters that its Bangalore centre - far from negatively impacting the oil industry - is creating new opportunities.

“No big pool of existing oil and gas talent exists in India,â€‌ says spokesman Deepak Mukarji. “Most of the people we take are straight from universities or engineering colleges.

We train them to work for Shell but it’s a free market; they are not tied to Shell and if better opportunities come their way they are free to leave.â€‌ Mukarji declined to reveal the salary packages offered to those working at the Shell centre, citing company policy, but admits they are competitive.

“If you want talent,â€‌ he adds, “you have to pay for it.â€‌ One source, that declined a job at Shell’s Bangalore centre confirms that packages for exploration managers are around Rs35-Rs40 ($80-100,000) lakhs per annum.

Shell Technology India, the official title of the centre in Bangalore, is undoubtedly a popular choice for engineering graduates and industry professionals alike, many of them expatriate Indians returning home. Mukarji said approximately 200 engineers are already working at the centre, either doing three to six month training courses or working on Integrated Field Development projects for Shell assets as far afield as Sakhalin, Qatar, Malaysia and Brunei.

By the end of this year Shell is targeting recruitment of another 300. Of this some 175 are joining next month (July), leaving Shell just 125 short of its target, which it expects to meet with little difficulty.

When Shell set up the centre in February 2006, it said “the company aims to grow to over 1000 people as quickly as the business will allow.â€‌ Clearly, the â€کbrain drain’ in India’s E&P sector looks set to continue unless Indian companies can match the packages offered by Shell.