With news of layoffs in the oil and gas sector still making headlines as the market looks to recover from low commodity prices, times are tough for those left without jobs.
Houston-based BG US Services Inc., the U.S. unit of BG Group—which recently merged with Royal Dutch Shell—reported to the Texas Workforce Commission in July plans to lay off 154 people. The warning came about a week after Weatherford Artificial Lift Systems in the Houston suburb of Katy told Texas regulators it will lay off 90 people.
Others reporting forthcoming layoffs in June included Freeport-McMoRan Oil & Gas and Hercules Offshore, which recently filed voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy petitions and began selling some of its assets. The two companies were added to a long list of other oil and gas companies—large and small, onshore- and offshore-focused, operators and service and supply companies—that have announced layoffs in Texas in 2016.
A news release recently issued by the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers showed that more than 100,000 upstream jobs have been cut from payrolls in Texas alone. The oil and gas industry employed just more than 205,000 Texans in May, down one-third from the December 2014 high of about 306,000.
While other jobs may not be immediately available to those without work, help is available—including for those thinking about becoming an entrepreneur.
Job-seekers might already know about resources offered by the Texas Workforce Commission such as online job databases, training and education programs, and unemployment benefits.
But industry groups also have initiatives underway.
The Society of Petroleum Engineers’ Gulf Coast Section (SPE GCS) kicked off its Members in Transition (MiT) initiative earlier this year to assist members who found themselves unemployed due to the lingering downturn. In a news release issued July 13, the group highlighted the initiative and some of its most integral components.
As part of the initiative, a monthly seminar series geared toward SPE members who are either between jobs or want to start their own business is offered. In addition, members can develop new skills after several industry software vendors agreed to grant unemployed SPE members access to their software.
“Companies such as Halliburton, DrillingInfo and OGRE are providing free training classes and term access to their software to help MiT members develop new skills,” the release said. “Updating software skills is an essential activity for those seeking employment in the energy industry.”
But perhaps the most intriguing part of the initiative is the so-called Ideas Launch Pad.
As explained by SPE GCS, the launch pad “is intended to assist those who have entrepreneurial ideas that could be candidates for funding and eventual launch as a commercial business.” Ideas that are technical and commercially promising are brought to the attention of the Houston Technology Center, which could move the idea into an incubation process and hopefully money to bring visions to fruition.
For some, a layoff could lead to bigger and better things.
Like Albert Einstein once said, “in the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity.”
Velda Addison can be reached at email@example.com.
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