The Texas oil and natural gas industry through July had seen a continued uptick in job growth, particularly in the Houston area, but the deadly Delta variant of Covid-19 poses near-term threats.

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An employment analysis of the upstream sector by the Texas Independent Producers and Royalty Owners Association (TIPRO) showed a net increase of 1,500 direct jobs in July. It was the third consecutive month of job growth. TIPRO previously reported that the state’s upstream employment increased by 15,800 direct jobs from July 2020 for a total of 175,100.  

“We believe the spread of the Delta coronavirus variant will impact the near-term pace of recovery to some degree, including Texas oil and natural gas job growth, but data suggests that vaccinations, natural immunity and public caution will help keep the latest variant at bay and avoid the major economic disruptions we experienced previously,” said TIPRO President Ed Longanecker. 

“We continue to anticipate a strong recovery in world oil demand this year and further growth in 2022. Prominent U.S. producers will maintain a highly disciplined approach to their production goals.” The group’s members also expect the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries “to do the same in efforts to reach and maintain global supply demand equilibrium.”

According to TIPRO’s workforce analysis, there were 59,473 total job postings for the Texas oil and natural gas industry in July, with “of which 8,768 were unique.” 

The top city by total unique oil and natural gas job postings was Houston (2,801). Two Permian Basin cities followed, with Midland (611) and Odessa (477). 

According to TIPRO, the top three companies ranked by unique job postings in July were all oilfield services (OFS) operators, led by Delek US Holdings Inc. (689), Halliburton Co. (615) and Baker Hughes Co. (576).

Of the 14 specific sectors that TIPRO uses to define the state’s oil and gas industry, Petroleum Refineries ranked the highest in July with 1,672 unique job postings. That was followed by Crude Petroleum Extraction (1,662) and Oil and Gas Field Machinery and Equipment Manufacturing (1,383). 

Longanecker noted that the state’s energy industry has seen “consistent growth in employment and jobs postings this year as economic conditions and global demand improve.”

Job postings have increased each month since January.

“Since the low point in employment in September 2020, months with job gains have outnumbered declining months 8-to-2,” according to the Texas Oil & Gas Association (TXOGA).

“Continued oil and natural gas upstream job growth is good news beyond the oil patch,” said TXOGA President Todd Staples. “Every direct oil and natural gas job in Texas generates an additional 3.0 jobs elsewhere in the state’s economy. 

“Oil and natural gas are not only essential for our everyday lives, but they anchor our economy and cement our energy security.”

Domestic crude production has been holding steady, while demand for U.S. petroleum rose earlier this month, alongside increased summer travel and greater consumption of motor gasoline, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said Wednesday. 

Still, the fast-spreading Delta variant presents increasing risk to Americans’ mobility – risk that could once again diminish demand for travel fuels derived from oil, said Mizuho Securities USA LLC’s Robert Yawger, director of energy futures. 

U.S. exploration and production companies and oilfield services operators, many of them headquartered in Texas, have begun instituting vaccination mandates. Some operators are continuing to allow employees to work remotely. Still others are using incentives to encourage vaccinations. 

For example, Chevron Corp. is requiring all newly hired employees and some field workers to be fully vaccinated. Chevron and Hess Corp. also have implemented vaccine mandates for crews stationed on Gulf of Mexico (GOM) platforms. 

Royal Dutch Shell plc is requiring employees and contractors to undergo screenings and receive negative Covid-19 tests within two days of going to work on a GOM platform. Occidental Petroleum Corp., which also has extended its work-from-home option for some staff, is requiring employees to quarantine before being transported to offshore platforms. 

Other companies are requiring unvaccinated employees to submit to weekly coronavirus tests. Still others, including Devon Energy Corp. and Pioneer Natural Resources Co., the largest Permian Basin producer, are offering bonuses for vaccinations.

“Pioneer is concerned about the low vaccination rates in the Permian,” the company said. “The Permian area health care system is under serious strain and we continue to encourage everyone that is eligible to get the vaccine.”