The President Elect is doing a lot of pushing and shoving to bring jobs back to the United States (a long overdue move if you ask me) but there’s one sector of growth which is surging right now and it has little to do with his proposals. Ever since OPEC ran up the white flag after we outlasted them in a rock bottom oil market and agreed to limit production, oil prices have been creeping back up to a relatively stable level. That means that production will be coming back online across America, but the pause we experienced since last winter has produced another beneficial side effect. Refineries and other production facilities have had some down time, offering the opportunity to perform much needed, large scale maintenance and upgrades, particularly on the gulf coast. There’s just one problem… they don’t have enough workers to get the job done. (Reuters)
After years of running flat out, U.S. Gulf Coast refiners are lining up repairs to plants in 2017 – but facing a severe labor shortage that could delay work, drive up costs and raise accident risks.
Fuel producers such as Marathon Petroleum Corp (MPC.N: Quote) and Valero Energy Corp (VLO.N: Quote) have delayed routine work in the past 24 months amid high margins. Those margins collapsed this year in a global fuel supply glut, providing an incentive for refiners to undertake the shutdowns necessary for maintenance.
But refiners are now competing for pipe fitters and ironworkers with a host of billion-dollar energy projects, including Cheniere Energy’s (LNG.A: Quote) liquefied natural gas export terminals and a new petrochemical unit for Dow Chemical (DOW.N: Quote).
Some of these jobs obviously call for experienced rig workers, but a lot of them offer on the job training and apprenticeship. It’s not just pipe fitters and welders, either. Industry analysts quoted in this report are saying that they can’t even find enough people to erect scaffolding at the refineries. While it requires a certain amount of mobility, this could be a significant opportunity for people to land some very well paying positions which could last for a few years.
American oil producers, battered by rock-bottom prices in 2016, could be poised for a big comeback and the prospect of creating new jobs for oilfield workers.
The downside? Gasoline prices could head higher for consumers.
After the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and several non-OPEC nations agreed to slash production starting next month, oil prices have spiked, fueling hopes among oil producers that America’s temporarily downtrodden energy sector will shed 2016’s blues in the New Year.
There’s never any news like this which doesn’t come with a downside, and as the USA Today article notes, this means that gas prices will probably start to creep back up. But as U.S. production climbs, supplies will once again stabilize and gas prices should level off well below the highs we experienced a few years back. In the meantime, more jobs which provide good paychecks without requiring an advanced college degree (or any degree in some cases) should provide the sort of stimulus to the American economy that no government handout ever will.
So if you’re looking for a new job, a change of pace and some new scenery, check out any of the many oil industry job sites (such as this one). And besides… who wouldn’t like to fly south for the winter?