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Texas Drilling Industry Ends 19-Month Job Bleed In July

Texas’ drilling companies added 100 jobs in July, marking the first monthly increase of the kind in the state’s energy sector for 19 straight months, according to Amarillo-based economist Karr Ingham.

Oil producers, service companies and rig contractors have fired over 102,000 people in Texas – or about one-third of the state’s energy industry - since January 2015, but the small job increase in July may indicate a coming employment rebound.

“It’s not spectacular, but it’s a gain rather than a loss,” Ingham said. The economist is known for publishing the monthly Texas Petro Index (TPI), which tracks several factors to measure the health of the state’s oil and gas sector.

“I believe it’s a recovery in the making, but it’s a slow, frustrating and torturous one because prices aren’t going up as much as most people hoped,” he said. "But the first thing was the bleeding had to stop, and it looks like we may be at that point.”

When oil prices fell in 2014, 733 rigs in the state had to be shut down, causing thousands of job losses.

"[It was] a set of falling dominos,” Ingham said. “They’re being set up again.”

The TPI contracted in July due to a decline in drilling and related activity, but August and September could see greater improvement vis-à-vis the index as oil prices recover.

Drilling activity in Texas has been on the rise; 68 rigs have returned to production in the past four months, bringing the state’s count to 241.

Employment in Texas’ oil sector is still close to levels not seen since the aftermath of the financial crisis in 2009.

By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com

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