The domestic petroleum industry is in a sustainable recovery, but it remains challenged in regenerating its workforce at all levels and reestablishing itself as a world leader in research and development (R&D), the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC) reported Monday.

"Blue Ribbon Task Force: A Follow Up Report" updates an IOGCC report first issued in 2003, which investigated the shrinking petroleum industry workforce and recommended ways to solve the dilemma (see Daily GPI, July 12, 2004).

"The progress is encouraging," said North Dakota Gov. John Hoeven, IOGCC's current chairman. "Since the task force issued its final report in 2003, significant progress has been made. Most encouraging is the evidence of public-private partnerships at every level. The task force recommendations for establishing internships, scholarships and other programs designed to attract young people to petroleum science careers has especially taken root in all areas."

Enrollment in petroleum-related majors at U.S. colleges and universities that had been shrinking for many years is on the rise. The number of bachelor's degrees awarded in petroleum engineering grew from 260 in 2000 to 322 in 2005, while the number of geology degrees awarded has fallen slightly from nearly 3,500 in 2000 to 3,300 in 2004.

However, more has to be done at a federal, state and industry levels, the IOGCC update concluded.

For industry, the IOGCC recommended that it continue to develop awareness by telling the "story" of the oil and natural gas industry in terms of professional development, environmental stewardship and opportunities for innovation. Industry also is encouraged to partner in developing oil and gas processes that would fast-track the knowledge transfer from research to commercial use. Mentoring, internship and other workforce development programs also should continue, and industry should collaborate with government and academia to recruit, train and retain professional and skilled workers.

To download a copy of the 24-page updated report, click here.

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