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Nearly 85,000 Jobs In U.S. Oilfield Services Lost To Oil Crisis

Nearly 85,000 people in the U.S. oilfield services industry have lost their jobs due to the pandemic-driven oil price crash and demand destruction, Houston-based Petroleum Equipment and Services Association (PESA) said in a new analysis this week, warning that it is likely significantly underestimating the jobs losses in the sector.

According to PESA’s analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data, 84,908 jobs in the oilfield services sector were lost between the start of the demand and oil price collapse until the end of May.

Compared to employment figures in May 2019, oilfield services employment is down by 105,000 jobs, and is now at its lowest point since 2016, PESA said. Employment in the oilfield services and equipment (OFS) sector declined by 13.5 percent from 785,106 jobs in May 2019 to 679,281 jobs in May 2020.  

“Industry analysts anticipate additional job losses in the coming months as the oil and gas industry continues cutting production by shutting in wells and reducing rig counts,’’ PESA said, warning that its analysis may be severely underestimating the job losses, due to limitations within the BLS data and the difficulty of accurately tracking and categorizing furloughs.

Many oilfield companies have up to half their workforce currently on furlough, while some of the largest companies in the sector expect to lay off thousands in the near future, PESA said.

Halliburton, for example, reduced the number of staff at its headquarters by 22 percent or about 1,000 people in May, after saying in mid-March that it would furlough 3,500 employees for two months and after it laid off 350 workers in Oklahoma in April. 

According to a Rystad Energy analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the U.S. oil and gas labor market is amongst the world’s most severely hit by the downturn that the Covid-19 pandemic has brought. More than 100,000 oil and gas jobs have already been lost in total, with most of them coming from the support activities market. 

By Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com

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