Column: Oil and gas jobs await
It’s been a summer of good energy news for American consumers: Memorial Day gas prices averaging $2.36 and Independence Day gas prices at 12-year lows. Americans have been hitting the road in record numbers this summer, reaping the benefits of the U.S. energy revolution.
Just in time for Labor Day, a new report keeps the good news coming — confirming, fittingly, that the U.S. natural gas and oil industry is a blockbuster job creator. The report from consulting firm PwC reveals that the industry supports 10.3 million U.S. jobs — up from 9.8 million in 2011.
It takes an extensive, multi-industry network to produce and deliver the energy American families and businesses need — including not just exploration, production and refining, but pipeline construction, transportation and thousands of businesses that provide service and supplies for all those activities and more.
Add it all up, and natural gas and oil support an additional 2.7 jobs for every direct job in the industry, adding $1.3 trillion to the U.S. economy and generating more than $714 billion — or 6.7 percent — of total U.S. labor income.
The economic impact of U.S. energy reaches all 50 states, both producing and non-producing states. The industry supports 322,600 jobs in Pennsylvania, the nation’s No. 2 natural gas producer, and 258,500 jobs next door in New York, the nation’s No.4 consumer of natural gas.
New York sits atop the same resource base that has made Pennsylvania an epicenter of the American energy renaissance, and the state could potentially add an additional 60,000 jobs by developing its own natural gas and building the pipelines needed to serve its residents.
This tale of two states is a case study in seizing energy opportunity. Although the United States leads the world in the production and refining of natural gas and oil — an achievement with clear benefits for job creation, energy security and consumer savings — we haven’t yet reached the full economic potential of our abundant resources.
Untapped reserves offshore provide a prime example. As long as government restrictions keep 94 percent of federal offshore acreage off limits to energy development, we’re leaving hundreds of thousands of well-paying jobs on the table, not to mention production gains of more than a million barrels of oil equivalent per day.
The Trump administration is moving in the right direction, issuing executive orders directing the Department of Interior to reconsider offshore areas previously closed to responsible development and to resume the permitting process for seismic surveys in the Atlantic — an essential step toward locating offshore oil and natural gas resources.
Seismic surveying uses advanced technology to allow scientists to produce detailed 3-dimensional maps to identify the safest, most efficient locations for energy exploration.
Used not just by the oil and natural gas industry but also by the U.S. government, the National Science Foundation and the offshore wind industry, advanced seismic survey technology has proven effective in safely uncovering new energy resources.
The last seismic surveys in the Atlantic were conducted more than 30 years ago, and cutting-edge seismic technology could help us better understand the resources accessible with advanced, responsible production methods — just as it did in the Gulf of Mexico, where estimates of recoverable oil resources were revised upward by almost 40 billion barrels compared to calculations made in 1987.
Technological innovation, stringent new safety standards and strong coordination between federal and state governments and industry ensure offshore energy development is safer than ever, from exploration to production.
Offshore operations safely coexist with tourism, commercial and recreational fishing industries and the military along thousands of coastline acres. Expanding access to U.S. energy resources is critical to future energy security and to fueling economic growth.
Eighty percent of U.S. voters support increased domestic oil and natural gas production and accessing our vast offshore resources in the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans, and Eastern Gulf of Mexico is a promising place to start.
Jack Gerard is president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute.