Federal Reserve Bank economists see weak rebound in oil jobs

Paula Dittrick
OGJ Online

HOUSTON, June 18 -- The US rig count has rebounded to the highest level since the mid-1980s, yet upstream employment as of December 2000 lagged 10.9% below its peak, said two analysts at the Houston branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

"Job growth in oil and natural gas extraction remains surprisingly weak," Robert W. Gilmer and Albert Mitchell said in a recent report.

"Texas was down 13.4% and Louisiana down 16.4%. Lafayette, a major jumping-off point for offshore activity in the Gulf of Mexico, was 25.1% below its previous oil employment peak, and Houston remained 8.6% under its 1998-99 peak," Gilmer and Mitchell said, citing the latest available Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Gilmer told OGJ Online that fewer jobs exist in oil production because of oil company consolidations and also because technology has enabled the industry to employ fewer people.

"The decline in producer employment is part of a long-term trend. Employment in 2000 was only two-thirds of what it was in 1990," Gilmer and Mitchell wrote.

"Although productivity growth remains at work, the data strongly suggest that reduced job growth may be closely related to the string of mergers among the major oil companies," they wrote. "This conclusion leaves us without a firm answer to whether much oil-related job growth lies ahead, either in Houston or elsewhere, but the possibility of more oil jobs in 2001 remains solid."

Meanwhile, the independents are driving US drilling and helping oil sector employment.

John Duncan, director of human resources for Apache Corp., Houston, said employment in the industry is affected by numerous factors.

"I think the mergers have taken some people out of the business, and the megamergers have slowed exploration. The last downturn in commodity prices was so severe that everybody is still gun shy about hiring. Also with technology, we can probably do more with fewer people," Duncan said.

He said attrition rates at Apache are higher than in previous years, explaining that competing oil companies are recruiting. Higher levels of drilling activity have raised the demand for land administrative work, land negotiation, and reservoir engineering, he said.

Apache has resumed college recruiting for the first time in 10 years. Apache has hired both college recruits and summer interns this year.

"The life blood of the business is geophysicists, geologists, and petroleum engineers," he said.

Meanwhile, Anadarko Petroleum Corp., Houston, is known within the industry for building loyalty among employees. Anadarko has never had an across-the-board layoff.

Richard Lewis, Anadarko vice-president of human resources, said Anadarko's employment totals have spiraled since 1999, adding the growth stemmed partially from the acquisition of Union Pacific Resources Co. (UPR), Fort Worth, Tex. (OGJ, Apr. 10, 2000, p. 34).

Anadarko had 3,498 regular full-time employees of of Dec. 31, 2000, compared with 1,433 regular full-time employees as of the end of 1999. Through May 31, Anadarko had 3,895 employees. The company has hired in excess of merger-related employment growth.

"It's been an interesting, challenging time. We have had success in recruiting with 70% of hires coming from referrals," Lewis said. "We do college recruiting, but you can't grow a huge program through college recruiting.

"We've been able to go out and recruit high-quality technology people. Is it easy? No. Have we been able to find quality people? Yes," Lewis said.

He said management's decision to "keep people when times were hard ... has contributed to our turnover rate of less than 3%."

Anadarko now has 210 domestic openings, of which 25-30% are for petroleum engineers, geologists and geophysicists.

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com

Related Articles

BHI: US oil rig count rises for first time in 30 weeks

07/02/2015 A sudden 12-unit jump in oil-directed rigs during the abbreviated week ended July 2 represented their first rise since Dec. 5, 2014, and helped lif...

FourPoint Energy to acquire Anadarko basin assets from Chesapeake

07/02/2015 FourPoint Energy LLC, a privately owned Denver company, plans to acquire oil and gas assets from Chesapeake Energy Corp. subsidiaries Chesapeake Ex...

Puma Energy completes purchase of Murco’s UK refinery, terminals

07/02/2015 Singapore-based Puma Energy Group Pte. has completed its purchase of UK midstream and downstream assets from Murco Petroleum Ltd., a subsidiary of ...

BP to settle federal, state Deepwater Horizon claims for $18.7 billion

07/02/2015 BP Exploration & Production Inc. has agreed in principle to settle all federal and state claims arising from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon inciden...

Shell Midstream Partners takes interest in Poseidon oil pipeline

07/01/2015 Shell Midstream Partners LP has completed its acquisition of 36% equity interest in Poseidon Oil Pipeline Co. LLC from Equilon Enterprises LLC, a s...

Shell makes FID on Appomattox deepwater development in Gulf of Mexico

07/01/2015 Royal Dutch Shell PLC has taken a final investment decision (FID) on the Appomattox deepwater development, authorizing construction and installatio...

BHP, Woodside move to decommission Stybarrow field

07/01/2015 BHP Billiton Ltd. and Woodside Petroleum Ltd. have started preparations for decommissioning of the Stybarrow group of oil fields in production lice...

Tullow Oil provides production update on Jubilee, other fields

07/01/2015 Tullow Oil PLC reported that gross production for the Jubilee field offshore Ghana averaged 105,000 b/d in this year’s first half, up from 102,000 ...

Statoil to suspend Scarabeo 5 drilling rig

07/01/2015 Due to overcapacity in its rig portfolio, Statoil ASA said it has decided to suspend Saipem’s Scarabeo 5 dynamically position drilling rig after it...
White Papers

UAS Integration for Infrastructure: More than Just Flying

Oil and gas companies recognize the benefits that the use of drones or unmanned aerial systems (UAS) c...

Solutions to Financial Distress Resulting from a Weak Oil and Gas Price Environment

The oil and gas industry is in the midst of a prolonged worldwide downturn in commodity prices. While ...
Sponsored by

2015 Global Engineering Information Management Solutions Competitive Strategy Innovation and Leadership Award

The Frost & Sullivan Best Practices Awards recognise companies in a variety of regional and global...
Sponsored by

Three Tips to Improve Safety in the Oil Field

Working oil fields will always be tough work with inherent risks. There’s no getting around that. Ther...
Sponsored by

Pipeline Integrity: Best Practices to Prevent, Detect, and Mitigate Commodity Releases

Commodity releases can have catastrophic consequences, so ensuring pipeline integrity is crucial for p...
Sponsored by

AVEVA’s Digital Asset Approach - Defining a new era of collaboration in capital projects and asset operations

There is constant, intensive change in the capital projects and asset life cycle management. New chall...
Sponsored by

Transforming the Oil and Gas Industry with EPPM

With budgets in the billions, timelines spanning years, and life cycles extending over decades, oil an...
Sponsored by

Asset Decommissioning in Oil & Gas: Transforming Business

Asset intensive organizations like Oil and Gas have their own industry specific challenges when it com...
Sponsored by
Available Webcasts

Operating a Sustainable Oil & Gas Supply Chain in North America

When Tue, Oct 20, 2015

Short lead times and unpredictable conditions in the Oil & Gas industry can create costly challenges in supply chains. By implementing a LEAN culture of continuous improvement you can eliminate waste, increase productivity and gain end-to-end visibility leading to a sustainable and well-oiled supply chain.

Please join us for this webcast sponsored by Ryder System, Inc.


On Demand

Leveraging technology to improve safety & reliability

Tue, Sep 22, 2015

Attend this informative webinar to learn more about how to leverage technology to meet the new OSHA standards and protect your employees from the hazards of arc flash explosions.


The Resilient Oilfield in the Internet of Things World

Tue, Sep 22, 2015

As we hear about the hype surrounding the Internet of Things, the oil and gas industry is questioning what is different than what is already being done. What is new?  Using sensors and connecting devices is nothing new to our mode of business and in many ways the industry exemplifies many principles of an industrial internet of things. How does the Internet of Things impact the oil and gas industry?

Prolific instrumentation and automation digitized the industry and has changed the approach to business models calling for a systems led approach.  Resilient Systems have the ability to adapt to changing circumstances while maintaining their central purpose.  A resilient system, such as Maximo, allows an asset intensive organization to leverage connected devices by merging real-time asset information with other critical asset information and using that information to create a more agile organization.  

Join this webcast, sponsored by IBM, to learn how about Internet of Things capabilities and resilient systems are impacting the landscape of the oil and gas industry.


Taking the Headache out of Fuel License and Exemption Certificates: How to Ensure Compliance

Tue, Aug 25, 2015

This webinar, brought to you by Avalara, will detail the challenges of tax document management, as well as recommend solutions for fuel suppliers. You will learn:

-    Why it’s critical to track business partner licenses and exemption documents
-    The four key business challenges of ensuring tax compliance through document management
-    Best practice business processes to minimize exposure to tax errors


Emerson Micro Motion Videos

Careers at TOTAL

Careers at TOTAL - Videos

More than 600 job openings are now online, watch videos and learn more!


Click Here to Watch

Other Oil & Gas Industry Jobs

Search More Job Listings >>
Stay Connected