CNN Money | July 14, 2016 | Matt Egan
Good news laid-off oil workers: U.S. energy companies could soon face a serious worker shortage.
Goldman Sachs believes the American oil industry is about to stage a big comeback from the painful downturn and big job losses caused by oversupply.
As more oil fields come on line and America's oil boom gets back on track, there simply won't be enough people to do the required drilling, well completion and other logistical work. Cheap oil wiped out nearly 170,000 oil and gas jobs since late 2014 as desperate companies scrambled to cut costs and avoid bankruptcy.
That means just to keep up with the expected ramp-up in drilling activity, the oil and gas industry would need to add 80,000 to 100,000 jobs between now and the end of 2018, Goldman predicted in a recent report.
The estimate is based on Goldman's forecast for U.S. oil production to resume growing next year after the recent drop to two-year lows. That growth would require some 700 oil rigs to be added -- and each one supports an average of 120 to 150 employees.
Jeff Bush, president of oil and gas recruiting firm CSI Recruiting, agrees that a "worker shortage" is coming.
"When we get back to a reasonable level of activity, there's going to be a supply crisis of experienced personnel. I just don't see any way around that," said Bush.
That would be incredible news for people like John Ratcliffe. The 55-year-old has struggled to find work since he was laid off by Transocean in March after eight years as chief mate aboard vessels operated by the offshore drilling contractor.
"It has been rough," Ratcliffe told CNNMoney. He said he knows of at least one former coworker who has committed suicide since the downturn began.
The struggle has forced Ratcliffe to recently leave his residence in New Hampshire for a temporary job with Rowan, another offshore drilling company, in Curacao, a Dutch island in the Caribbean.
Ratcliffe is not alone. The list of America's biggest job-killing companies this year is dominated by energy companies, large and small, including National Oilwell Varco, Schlumberger, Halliburton and Chevron.
All told, Goldman estimates that 170,000 oil and gas jobs have disappeared during the downturn. That's far worse than the 87,000 jobs wiped out during the last downturn in the middle of the Great Recession.
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