U.S. Upstream Oil Workers Seeking New Employment in 11 Years11 Jul

In approximately 11 years the United States will be importing 100 percent of its crude oil requirements. That import number is now 60 percent. This means that upstream oil workers will need to find other forms of employment in shale gas or offshore oil production, for example. Upstream activity involves surveying, environmental assessment, seismic surveys, drilling, cementing, manufacturing/selling tools, supplies, drilling fluids, and producing crude oil itself. Numerous secondary and tertiary vendors support upstream, exploration, development, production and well decommissioning. The term downstream refers to oil refining.

How many upstream oil workers will be affected in 11 years? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are nearly 155,000 workers involved with both oil and gas extraction. Since the BLS does not separate oil and gas workers, I divided 155,000 workers into oil and gas workers based on the number of oil and gas wells in the United States. As of 2009 the number of oil wells is approximately 363,000, while the number of gas wells totals 461,000. Thus, oil wells are nearly 44 percent of the total number of wells. Based on this simplified model of counting the number of oil workers, in 11 years about 68,000 upstream oil workers will be seeking employment elsewhere.

Employment in offshore oil production is uncertain. New crude oil sources might be discovered in the outer continental shelf (OCS) of Alaska, the Atlantic, Pacific oceans, as well as the eastern and central sectors of the Gulf of Mexico. However, estimates on reservoir volumes lack modern seismic survey data. (See the Annual Energy Outlook 2011, Projections to 2035, p 35, Department of Energy). Job creation in the production of shale gas may be a possibility. However, there are opinions both pro and con.

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About Dr. Everson

Prior to forming this SBIR consultant practice, Dr. Jeffrey Everson was director of business development for QinetiQ North America’s Technology Solutions Group (previously Foster-Miller, Inc.).

Dr. Everson has won and been the principal investigator for several SBIR programs, including a Phase I program for NASA, a Phase I project for the U.S. Air Force, and Phase I and II contracts from the U.S. Department of Transportation. For the Phase II program, he received a Tibbetts Award for exemplifying the best in SBIR achievement.

Previously Dr. Everson held senior scientist positions at Battelle Memorial Institute, The Analytic Sciences Corporation (TASC), Honeywell Electro Optics Systems Division, and Itek Optical Systems Division.

He holds a PhD in physics from Boston College and a MS/BS in physics from Northeastern University.


For more information about how JHEverson Consulting can help your company with its SBIR and STTR proposals, please contact Jeff Everson.

JHEverson Consulting is based in the Boston area but consults for clients throughout North America. It also is supported by affiliated consultants.