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.Tags: Bureau of Labor Statisitcs, Crude Oil Imports, Offshore Oil Production, Shale Gas, Upstream Activity, Upstream OIl Workers