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Texas adds 2,800 oil exploration and production jobs in August


Oil exploration and production companies in Texas added 2,800 jobs in August as the industry continues to recover from the pandemic-driven oil bust.

The state’s upstream sector has recovered 19,700 jobs since employment bottomed out a year ago, about a third of the 60,000 jobs lost during the pandemic last year. The state has 178,500 drilling and extraction workers, according to data from the Texas Workforce Commission and analyzed by the Texas Oil and Gas Association, an industry trade group.

“Oil and natural gas jobs pay among the highest wages in Texas, so job growth in this sector not only bolsters our economy and energy security, but also has a tremendous, positive impact for thousands of Texas families,” TXOGA President Todd Staples said in a statement.

“Every direct oil and natural gas job in Texas generates an additional 3 jobs elsewhere in the state’s economy.”

Oil companies laid off tens of thousands of workers statewide last year after oil demand and prices plunged amid economic lockdowns and travel restrictions. Over the past nine months, jobs have steadily returned to the oil patch as economies have reopened and travel has picked up, bolstering oil demand and prices.

West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. crude benchmark, was trading at $71.62 a barrel on Wednesday morning, up from $48 a barrel in January.

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Texas’ oil and gas industry has added jobs for four-straight months since April, and August upstream employment is up 12 percent compared to a year ago, TXOGA said.

Over the past year, Texas exploration and production companies have added 1,200 jobs while oil-field services companies have added 18,500 jobs.

Texas oil and gas companies posted 8,558 new job listings in August, according to the Texas Independent Producers & Royalty Owners Association. Houston had the most job listings: 2,815; followed by Midland with 532 and Odessa with 447. Some of the companies with the most job postings include Halliburton with 618, Delek U.S. Holdings, 563 and National Oilwell Varco, 533, according to the trade association.

The industry’s recovery remains tenuous, however, as the highly infectious delta variant of the coronavirus has pushed back return-to-office plans and threatens to dent travel activity. The demand pressure comes as OPEC and its allies are planning to increase supply to take advantage of higher crude prices.

Oil producers also are holding spending to historically low levels as they try to woo investors back to the energy sector. The rig count has recovered more slowly than expected given how quickly oil prices have rebounded. The number of drilling rigs operating in U.S. oil fields last week rose to 512, more than double the 255 rigs operating a year ago. Still, the number of operating rigs remains far below the recent peak of nearly 1,100 at the end of 2018.

Oil executives and trade groups, however, expect their industry will enjoy a multi-year boom as petroleum demand recovers from the pandemic and exceeds supplies after years of under-investment in new wells and promises of “capital discipline” from many large producers.

“Oil and natural gas demand is poised to surge over the next six to 12 months, despite a temporary slowdown due to the delta variant,” said Ed Longanecker, president of TIPRO. “Bullish fundamentals set up oil prices and the industry for strong returns over the next few years, which will have a positive impact on industry employment and economic growth for our state and country.”


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