By Kyra Buckley
Houston Chronicle , October 11, 2022
Companies that provide equipment, labor and technology for oil and gas drilling continue to add workers, but employment in the oil-field services sector remains well below pre-pandemic levels.
In September, employment in oil-field services and equipment ticked up nationwide to 640,767, according to preliminary federal data analyzed by the Energy Workforce and Technology Council. The industry trade group estimates that, after August adjustments, the sector added 2,566 jobs in the U.S. last month.
Like the overall U.S. economy, the oil field services industry is still adding jobs, but the pace is slowing. Nationwide, the sector was adding about 5,000 jobs a month until reporting about half that number in September. Also, like other businesses in the country, oil-field services firms have been hit with supply chain issues making it hard to get equipment, and when they are able to secure needed resources, they’re paying more because of inflation.
Oil-field services companies, however, are expected to benefit from this year’s high oil and gas prices. While supply chain issues and exiting Russian operations after the war in Ukraine cost companies millions, Houston-based Halliburton still posted more than $100 million in profits in the second quarter, and Paris-based Schlumberger recorded $959 million. Analysts expect similar results when third-quarter results roll in this month.
While the sector, which also includes Houston-based Baker Hughes and Weatherford, has seen more activity this year, employment is still about 65,000 jobs below that of February 2020, the month before the pandemic brought drilling to a near standstill.
Texas is home to nearly half of those jobs. In September, the council estimated Texas oil field services employment at 312,246 – a 3,970 dip from August’s preliminary numbers, but still well above the 287,000 Texas had at the start of the year. Both September and August data are subject to adjustments.
“As the energy services sector continues to rebuild the workforce from pandemic losses, the September increases are encouraging in the face of lower job increases across the country,” said Leslie Beyer, Energy Workforce and Technology Council CEO, in a statement.
The oil and gas industry as a whole has reported record-breaking profits amid soaring demand after the pandemic and an energy crunch brought on by the war in Ukraine.
Most recently, the move by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies to limit production has sent the price of West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark, back above $90 per barrel.