Through the past 2-plus years, the petroleum industry has experienced its deepest downturn since the late 1980s. It feels like, in the words of baseball legend Yogi Berra, “It’s déjà vu all over again.” Like other market cycle downturns, a dramatic drop in the price of oil leading to sharp cuts in investment in exploration and production has affected the entire industry and the people who work in it. Also, as in past downturns, company after company laid off high percentages of their employees across the board and, in many cases, also enacted hiring freezes.
Since the steep drop in oil prices, an estimated 250,000 workers directly involved in the petroleum industry have lost their jobs. From field personnel to executives, the toll has been high. Many of these laid off workers have moved on to find employment in other industries, often with more comfortable and predictable working conditions than is the norm in the oil field. It will be difficult for our industry to attract a large percentage of these workers to return. Add to this scenario “the great crew change” created by the retirement of many senior level people who joined the industry in the boom of the late 1970s and early 1980s, and it is conceivable that the industry may be headed for an all-time low in the availability of qualified personnel. Midcareer professionals are in short supply, and few qualified candidates are left to replace the retiring senior management. For the industry, this loss of expertise will be difficult to replace when the next boom comes. At the same time, enrollment in petroleum engineering degree programs across the US is falling, making the talent shortage even more acute....
Are You Ready for the Oilfield Recovery?
Don Gawick, President and CEO, C&J Energy Services
01 May 2017