Global energy workforce shifting from onshore shale to offshore

Houston Chronicle | Jordan Blum | July 31, 2019

As U.S. shale activity plateaus for now and the offshore oil and gas industry recovers, the employment growth in the global energy sector has shifted from onshore to offshore.

In 2017 and 2018, offshore services firms grew their employment by about 6 percent while onshore companies hiked their payrolls by less than 4 percent, according to the Norwegian research firm Rystad Energy. And the shift toward offshore is expected to continue in the years ahead.

However, most of the offshore recovery is occurring internationally in regions like Europe and the Middle East, while the U.S. Gulf of Mexico has only seen marginal growth.

In onshore shale, the drilling rig count in the U.S. has fallen throughout this year and major services players like Houston's Halliburton and National Oilwell Varco are both axing jobs.

While shale growth kept the energy sector stable from 2016 and beyond 2017, the offshore industry has now taken the lead, Rystad said.

"This is a clear effect of the increase in offshore sanctioning. We expect offshore commitments to nearly double from 2018 to 2020, and sustain high levels of spending over the next five years," said Matthew Fitzsimmons, Rystad vice president.

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