As the unemployment rate in the US continues to slowly drop, going from 8.3% in January to 7.8% in September, it’s good to hear that the oil and gas industry is doing its part to help keep people employed. The recently released IHS Global Insight report showed that unconventional oil and gas production supports more than 1.7 million US jobs in 2012 and could support 3.5 million in 2035. In addition to creating and maintaining jobs, the upstream unconventional oil and gas sector is expected to generate $62 billion in annual government revenue by year-end and $110 billion in 2020. “Unlocking unconventional energy will generate millions of jobs and billions in government receipts,” the report said. “It will make significant contributions to the US economy through direct employment, its many and diverse connections with supplier industries, the amount of spending this direct and indirect activity supports throughout the economy, and the revenues that flow to federal, state and local governments.” Key findings of the report included: • Unconventional oil and natural gas activity will have more than $5.1 trillion in capital expenditures between 2012 and 2035. The amount includes more than $2.1 trillion for unconventional oil activity and about $3 trillion for unconventional natural gas activity; • Upstream unconventional oil and natural gas activity will support more than 1.7 million jobs in 2012. That number is expected to jump to 2.5 million jobs in 2015, then to 3 million jobs in 2020, and ultimately 3.5 million jobs in 2035; and • Federal, state, and local tax coffers should expect nearly $62 billion in 2012 thanks to unconventional oil and natural gas activity. By 2020, government revenues could surpass the $111 billion mark and eventually generate more than $2.5 trillion in tax revenues between 2012 and 2035. “The United States is now the largest natural gas producer at 65 Bcf/d,” according to the report. “Additionally, unconventional activity is spurring the growth of natural gas liquids (NGLs) production, adding over 500,000 boe/d since 2008. This has brought the total increase in oil production capacity to some 1.7 MMb/d since 2008.” This is great news for any of the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have been out of work, the underemployed, and others looking to make a career change. And the news couldn’t have come at a better time, considering jobs and improving the economy remain among the top platform items of presidential candidates and of top concern to millions of Americans today. Given that these jobs are expected to be available, those looking to step into those positions and companies looking to hire them should be more than willing to provide continuous training to employees new to the industry. This is necessary not only to for employees to gain valuable knowledge about operations, but to ensure that they do their jobs effectively and efficiently without breaking any of the laws mandated by the approximately 30 agencies that regulate the industry. If oil and gas companies as well as companies that support them haven’t been doing so already, now is the time to make sure training programs and refresher courses are in place to maximize the benefits of the nation’s resources. Aside from training, informing the public also will continue to be key given the controversy and misinformation that continues to be spread about hydraulic fracturing, which has made the unconventional oil and gas boom such a success. Put more dollars into public relations campaigns to help reverse any undue negative images of the industry. And lastly, but definitely not least, companies and their employees should respect the neighborhoods in which they operate. Are your trucks tearing up the roads? Fix it. Can your trucks take roads less traveled? Do it. Are there ways of reducing the amount of water used in the fracturing process? Put some research dollars into that and use it. Got techniques to reduce the noise coming from drill sites? Utilize them. The nation’s anticipated future cash cow will come with responsibilities. And all involved should do their part to make it worth it in more ways than one. Contact the author, Velda Addison, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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