Nov 17, 2017

Oil employment's lagging recovery

A new presentation from the Dallas Fed has a chart that caught my eye. It shows how employment in one key part of the industry — extraction and supporting activities — has not bounced back alongside U.S. production, which fell sharply in 2015 after prices collapsed but has been moving up again for a year and heading for record levels.

Data: Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Axios Visuals

Between the lines: Kunal Patel, a senior research analyst with the Dallas Fed, offered some insight in an email exchange:

"There are likely a variety of factors causing employment to not keep up with rising production. Primarily, efficiency gains (faster drill times and more production output per well) are allowing operators to produce more with less people," Patel said.

  • Some evidence: He notes that the oil rig count as November 10 was 738, which is slightly under half of the 2014 average, yet production has risen by by about a million barrels per day over the last year to the current level of roughly 9.6 million barrels per day.

"Additionally, greater use of technology is likely leading to automation of some tasks and allowing operators to be streamlined and more efficient. Big data has also allowed the industry to be more efficient," Patel said.

Go deeper: He highlighted this Bloomberg piece on industry adoption of advanced tech and data analysis, and this Dallas Morning News story on industry employment trends and technology.

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What Middle East crisis? Why oil prices aren't rising

Data: EIA; Chart: Axios Visuals

Despite rising unrest in the Middle East — including the death of an Iranian commander — America’s average gasoline prices have remained under $3 a gallon.

Why it matters: Practically speaking, it’s great for drivers’ pocketbooks — and President Trump’s re-election campaign. It also shows the remarkable cushion created by the United States' booming oil production, which has doubled over the last decade.

Go deeperArrowJan 8, 2020

Suspension of 737 MAX production expected to cut economic growth

Photo: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Boeing's plan to suspend production of its 737 MAX jets in January is expected to hit Q1 GDP growth, assuming the suspension lasts through the first quarter and that suppliers slow production.

By the numbers: Wall Street firms estimate the suspension could shave off as much as 0.6 percentage points from Q1 GDP.

Go deeperArrowDec 19, 2019

The decade that blew up energy predictions

Illustration: Andrew Witherspoon / Axios

America’s energy sources, like booming oil and crumbling coal, have defied projections and historical precedents over the last decade.

Why it matters: It shows how change can happen rapidly and unexpectedly, even in an industry known to move gradually and predictably. With a new decade upon us, let’s look back at the last one’s biggest, most surprising energy changes.

Go deeperArrowDec 23, 2019