Oil field mourns for workers – Odessa American

After peaks in early summer two years ago, oilfield employment is slowly rebounding from the chaos of the pandemic and depressed oil and gas prices last year.

Economist Ray Perryman, Permian Basin Petroleum Association Executive Vice President Stephen Robertson and Permian Basin Workforce Development Board CEO Willie Taylor say coronavirus variant creates uncertainty, but improving oil prices and gas from 2020 lows is fueling increased activity and higher wages in the region.

“Employment across the industry peaked in May 2019 at 57,179,” Perryman said. “The peak of employment in oil and gas production alone came in July 2019 at 12,876, while oil services peaked in May at 44,427. There was oversupply and prices. were declining even before the pandemic.

“The overall decline between February and July 2020 was 32.7% and the low occurred in July 2020 at 33,470.”

Until June of this year, Perryman said, the recovery had brought in a total of 38,249 workers while the number of drilling rigs in mid-July had increased from 122 to 238 last August.

“Weekly wages in exploration and production fell 48.2% when the pandemic hit, mainly due to fewer hours and less overtime,” he said. “They have since recovered to 23.3%, but remain well below previous levels.

“The 7.2% drop in salaries for oil services has since been reinstated. Compensation across the region remains well below previous peaks, but is improving steadily. As an interesting prospect, total employment in the sector was only 13,000 to 15,000 each month before the fracking.

Robertson said well service companies continue to be understaffed and truck drivers, as always, are in short supply. “Opportunities for growth exist, but this is largely a situation that we have already seen when things start to pick up,” he said.

“There is a gap between the jobs available and the people available to fill those jobs. A lot of well service companies I’ve spoken to would like to put more teams in the field because the work is there, but they don’t have the employees. There is an inventory of drilled but unfinished wells. This is not the first time this has happened, but one of the most important areas is in the area of ​​truck drivers. “

Robertson said this recovery is not comparable to previous rebound scenarios because the pandemic has distorted everything. “We are not ramping up the way we have in the past,” he said.

“There are outside forces like Washington politics. There is certainly optimism, but it is a different time than we have never seen before. “

Taylor said service companies like Halliburton and Schlumberger have many openings with manufacturers and other parts of the industry.

Depending on experience, he said, backpackers earn between $ 16 and $ 22 an hour, pumper trucks between $ 22 and $ 25, mechanics between $ 20 and $ 25, and truckers between $ 18 and $ 25. “It’s a market of job seekers now because companies are struggling to find skilled workers who want to return to work,” Taylor said.

“They offer incentives and bonuses to try to attract people.”

He said 23,000 to 25,000 people were still receiving unemployment benefits in the region.

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