Unlike other industries, oil and gas still employ much less than before the pandemic | Business
Oil production remains between a rock and a hard place. The hope that a new opportunity presents itself in the pipeline is still strong for many laid-off workers in the industry.
Ernesto Cuellar has worked on offshore platforms since 2011. But in August, the pandemic-induced market crash led to Cuellar being fired and fired at his residence in Cuero. He is one of many workers in the United States and all industries who have received less work due to the pandemic.
“I can feel it in my bones,” Cuellar said. “Something tells me to keep the faith. Stay strong.”
Since his layoff, Cuellar has received responses to his applications for employment outside the oil and gas industry due to employer concerns. Like many others awaiting the next boom, he said employers outside the industry fear workers like him will leave their jobs, if hired, once drilling resumes.
Despite the increase in the number of workers employed, the industry is smaller than the size of its pre-pandemic workforce.
In April, the petroleum services industry in the United States employed 632,472, according to a report by the Energy Workforce & Technology Council with preliminary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Just before the onset of the pandemic, the sector employed 706,528 in February 2020 and 785,106 this time two years ago.
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With companies focusing on free cash flow and repaying investors, the drilling has been limited, said Kevin Broom, director of communications and research for the Energy Workforce & Technology Council, which is a combination in February of the Petroleum Equipment & Services Association; and the Association of Energy Service Companies.
As drilling remains limited, so does the need to bring back the workers.
Cuellar has gone through boom and bust cycles before, he said, but never to this point.
As a resident of Texas, but technically employed in Louisiana for his offshore work as a rig clerk, he said he had not been able to qualify for unemployment benefits from the State. To try to find out more about his options, he said he called the Texas Workforce Commission, being redirected to different numbers and left on hold for hours without an answer.
“God gives and the Lord takes,” he said. “If I don’t go back to work by June 1, life will become very tragic.”
Cuellar’s friends and colleagues have done worse, he said, with some even falling out of the network and one not responding to Cuellar’s messages or attempts to help with bills.
“I am blessed for what I have and I am grateful,” he said. “There are people who are worse off.”
Since March 1, Cuellar has found a job in cleaning petroleum equipment in Nordheim. As for the near future, he said he hoped to find a job similar to the one before, which would pay more than his current job.
Drilling stagnation persists for many of the large operators and small support companies.
In the Eagle Ford Shale in April, the number of rigs was 35, while nationwide it was 440 by the end of April, according to data from the Energy Information Administration and Baker. Hughes.
Onshore drilling, Cuellar said, generally returns more quickly than offshore drilling. For major oil and gas operators, that could change in part after the next OPEC meeting, scheduled for the same day, Cuellar said. ‘he was supposed to be back to work in the industry – June 1.
“At the time of the Concho transaction, we aligned our staffing levels across the company with expected activity levels,” Lexey Long, senior analyst at ConocoPhillips, said of Eagle Ford. “We will fill the positions as needed, but don’t expect significant hires in the short term.”
In the Eagle Ford, 1.04 million barrels of oil and 5.54 million cubic feet per day of gas were produced in April, according to the Energy Information Administration. As of February 2020, 1.37 million barrels of oil and 6.88 million cubic feet per day of gas were produced.
“I hope something happens, because like I said, what I’m doing now, I don’t mind. They pay me a living wage, ”Cuellar said.
Despite this, he said he was looking to return overseas or take a job that could bring him into retirement.
“We’ll see what happens,” Cuellar said of the weeks to come.
Geoff Sloan reports on business and the latest news in the Carrefour area. He received his BA in International Relations with Minors in Journalism and French from Texas State University. Contact him at [email protected] or @GeoffroSloan on Twitter.