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Eagle Ford Jobs to Grow, Evolve As Play Enters Production Phase

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Eagle Ford shale activity will continue to drive job creation in South Texas through 2021, with the level of experience required and types of labor demand evolving as Eagle Ford activity shifts from exploration to production, according to a recent analysis by the Institute for Economic Development at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA).

In 2011, Eagle Ford shale activity supported 38,000 jobs in 14 actively producing oil and gas counties in the Eagle Ford, mainly in the construction and extraction and office support job sectors but also in the transportation, service, business management and professional occupations, UTSA reported in its report released this month analyzing the future job growth associated with the Eagle Ford.

By 2021, Eagle Ford shale activity is expected to support 82,644 jobs, according to UTSA. The transportation and construction and extraction jobs will still be significantly impacted by Eagle Ford shale activity.

However, the most significant job growth associated with the Eagle Ford in 2021 will be seen in administrative support, professionals, business management and service occupations. These types of jobs will range from professionals working in the health care, education, legal, and architecture fields to service occupation jobs such as food servers and groundskeepers.

"The development of the Eagle Ford shale has distinct phases, during which individual industries will experience varying levels of labor demand and evolving types of labor demanded," the UTSA report said. "Thus, education and training requirements for workers will need to remain flexible enough to accommodate the vacillating needs of industry."

In its study, UTSA examined the direct, indirect and induced economic impacts of Eagle Ford activity on 14 South Texas counties. These counties include 14 counties with Eagle Ford shale production -- Atascosa, Bee, DeWitt, Dimmit, Frio, Gonzales, Karnes, La Salle, Live Oak, Maverick, McMullen, Webb, Wilson and Zavala.

During the play's exploration phase, counties will see a rise in the need for occupations dealing with mineral leasing, site construction/management, drilling rig support, and material transport.

"As companies shift into the production and processing phase of operations, they require a workforce composed of business management, administrative support and the processing of gas, oil and condensate occupations," UTSA said.

The average salaries of the 14 counties studied grew from the $23,400-$28,600 range in 2005 to $31,200-$36,400 range in 2011. UTSA estimates that in 2021, Eagle Ford shale activity will generate approximately $6 billion in salaries and benefits for workers. Eagle Ford activity is also expected to generate over $1.5 billion in state revenues and $888 million in local government revenues in 2021.

Between 2010 and 2021, construction and extraction occupations will continue to be the most relevant in the 14-county region. However, the drilling and production phases are expected to be much more evenly distributed during that time.

"Overall, between 2010 and 2021, Eagle Ford development is estimated to impact occupations within the 14-county region by 23.5 percent," UTSA said in the report. "These estimates can serve as a key policy tool for long-term growth planning in the projected occupations."

The level of job training and education for Eagle Ford shale workers also will evolve. In 2010, the level of training or education required for most jobs in the 14 counties prior to the onset of the current level of Eagle Ford activity was short-term, and could include learning to operate a forklift or working in customer service and had one month or less of instruction and on-the-job experience.

However, the additional jobs created by the Eagle Ford shale from 2010 to 2011 indicated the increased need for moderate-term on the job training, which would include anywhere from one month to a year of informal training and job experience. These types of jobs would also require workers to learn using computer programs and require a high school diploma or general equivalency degree.

To meet projected employment needs in 2021, UTSA estimates significant increases in the need for training and education at all levels to support continued development of the Eagle Ford. While moderate and short-term on the job training will be required for 27.8 percent and 22.3 percent of the jobs in the 14-county region in 2021, the number of jobs requiring a bachelor's degree will also rise to 15 percent in 2021, up from 10.4 percent in 2011.

The recent analysis follows UTSA's May 2012 study of the overall economic impact of Eagle Ford shale activity on a 20-county region of South Texas last year.

A third report conducted by UTSA and released this month details specific economic impacts of the Eagle Ford shale at the individual county level, with breakout reports for each county.

The education and workforce impacts vary based on the phase of Eagle Ford shale development occurring in different parts of the region, and affect the demand for certain occupations and training in each county, UTSA said.
 



Karen Boman has more than 10 years of experience covering the upstream oil and gas sector. Email Karen at kboman@rigzone.com.

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