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O&G Execs Tout Increase in Upstream Employment

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Half of U.S. oil and gas senior executives expect to increase employment this year and two-thirds believe that the recession burdening 2009 will end this year, according to Grant Thornton LLP's eighth annual Survey of Upstream U.S. Energy Companies.

Reed Wood, Grant Thornton LLP’s partner-in-charge of the firm's energy practice, detected optimism from the respondents of the 2010 survey. "It was convincingly evident in their outlooks for prices, capital expenditures and employment."

While only a third of the respondents expect an overall increase in employment for the industry as a whole in 2010, half indicate that their company would increase its employment levels. The numbers for 2011 are even more promising, with nearly three-quarters (74%) of respondents saying that they expect industry employment to increase and 56 percent expecting their own company's employment to increase.

With regards to the economy, two-thirds of senior executives at oil and gas companies believe that the conditions will improve enough for the U.S. economy sometime during 2010 for most business leaders to consider the current recession to be over (34% said the first half of 2010 and 33% said the second half of 2010). In addition, 71 percent said that they believe the recession will end in 2010 for the upstream sector and 65 percent for service companies. Only 11 percent said that they believe the recession has already ended for the U.S. economy, 7 percent for the upstream sector and 1 percent for service companies.

Wood feels the survey responses confirm other dialogue with industry leaders that, "the upstream industry experienced increased cash flow during the second half of 2009 and more favorable interest in their domestic capital intensive projects requiring highly trained and experienced personnel. Continued stabilization and improvement of the key drivers should result in 2010 as a strong beginning of hopefully another extended recovery for the industry and the U.S. pursuit of less dependence on foreign resources."

Additional industry issues and opportunities from this year’s survey include the following:

  • Uncertain natural gas and crude oil prices repeat for a second year as the top concerns in the industry today.
  • Respondents still believe that incentives for increased U.S. drilling are the number one way for U.S. consumers to reduce energy prices.
  • While most respondents view alternative fuels as a long-term solution, respondents indicated that clean coal is the most likely to be effective in the short term.
  • Area of most opportunity: Successful exploitation of existing prospects, followed by mergers and acquisitions, and operating efficiencies.
  • While 35 percent of respondents believe the United States is a global leader in the industry, 80 percent believe the United States is lagging by its dependence on foreign sources of energy.
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