Texas oil and natural gas job gains continue despite threats of federal overreach

As Texas continues to lead the U.S. in job growth, breaking its own employment records every month, contributing to this growth are the employers and workers in the upstream oil and natural gas industry.

In October, the sector added 2,800 jobs; job gains for September were also revised upward to 2,200 from an estimated 900.

“Texas oil and natural gas producers are steadily adding jobs as our state’s economy continues to strengthen even amidst high inflation, a testament to our state’s free-market principles and the oil and natural gas industry’s commitment to producing the fuel and products that power modern life,” Todd Staples, president of the Texas Oil & Gas Association, said. “Even as global unrest persists, this industry’s focus on providing energy security and economic strength for our state and nation remains steadfast.”

Since the COVID-low point of September 2020, months of increase in Texas upstream oil and gas employment outnumbered months of decrease by a ratio of 22 to 3, with the industry adding 50,000 upstream jobs, an average of 2,000 a month.

The 207,000 Texans employed in the upstream sector in October 2022 represents a 21.4% increase from last October. These jobs pay among the highest wages in Texas, Staples notes; average salaries in 2021 were roughly $109,000.

October’s numbers, the Texas Independent Producers and Royalty Owners Association (TIPRO) notes, represent an increase of 8,100 jobs in oil and natural gas extraction and 28,400 jobs in the services sector.

There are also nearly 12,000 jobs that employers need filled, TIPRO adds. In October, there were 11,904 active unique jobs postings, including 3,742 new job postings added last month, according to its analysis of state workforce data.

Among 14 specific industry sectors, Support Activities for Oil and Gas Operations continued to list the greatest number of unique job listings in October, followed by Crude Petroleum Extraction, and Petroleum Refineries. These job openings indicate “a continued emphasis on increasing exploration and production activities” in Texas, TIPRO says.

Houston overwhelmingly has the greatest number of jobs available of over 4,500, followed by over 1,000 in Midland and over 500 in Odessa with John Wood Group, Baker Hughes and KBR having the greatest number of jobs available.

While the industry continues to hire, it’s also paying the lion’s share of taxes, having remitted nearly $1 billion into Texas coffers in October. Last month, Texas oil producers paid $544 million in production taxes, up 31% from last October. Natural gas producers paid $410 million, up 59% from last October.

“The Texas oil and natural gas industry continues to provide unmatched support for the state economy and our nation’s energy security,” TIPRO president Ed Longanecker said. “The state and federal policies should reflect the need for reliable energy and growing global demand for oil and natural gas.”

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) expects crude oil production to continue to increase nationwide through the end of the year. In Texas, crude production in December is expected to increase by 91,000 barrels per day (bpd), surpassing 9.191 million bpd. This includes a forecasted West Texas Permian Basin output hitting a record 5.499 million bpd and South Texas Eagle Ford Shale output increasing by 14,000 bpd to reach 1.237 million bpd next month.

The EIA also projects natural gas production to grow nationally to 95.7 billion cubic feet per day (bcf/d) in December. This includes Permian Basin production increasing by 125 million cubic feet per day (mcf/d) to hit a record high of 21.3 billion bcf/d and Eagle Ford Shale output reaching 7.390 bcf/d in December, up 79 mmcf/d from November.

Midland-based Oil and Gas Workers Association board member Richard Welch told The Center Square the industry's job creation and output would be even higher if the Biden administration wasn't trying to clamp down on production in the Permian.

"The jobs market in the oil and gas sector could be a lot higher without the constant bombardment from the Biden administration's weaponized EPA's scrutinization of the industry," Welch said. "Individual drillers are maxed out on equipment. Independent drillers make up 50% of the current operations in the Permian Basin yet only own 20% of the equipment."

He’s referring to a Biden administration plan to revive an Obama-era EPA regulatory scheme, which Texas Gov. Greg Abbott says is designed to “attack Texas production based on illogical and flawed grounds.” If implemented, it would jeopardize a quarter of the U.S. gasoline supply, Abbott argues, because it’s designed to end fossil fuels, which would detrimentally impact Americans struggling with 40-year-high inflation and high gas prices.

The Biden administration is also attempting to revive an Obama-era “environmental justice” regulation, which Attorney General Ken Paxton argues would cripple the industry and create a serious national security risk.

Welch says the industry “remains confident in the governor and attorney general’s ability to hold off an already weaponized EPA being used to suffocate an already over-regulated oil and gas industry. They are committed to ensuring Texas remains the oil and gas powerhouse that fuels America and the world.”

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