The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Where the Jobs Are

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted July 11, 2011

Nearly 190,000 new jobs and billions in economic growth could result in 2013 if development of offshore oil and natural gas in the Gulf of Mexico returns to where it was before last year's drilling moratorium, according to a new study.

The research by Quest Offshore Resources for API and the National Ocean Industries Association also details the impact of the administration's anti-drilling policies last year - including a moratorium on deepwater exploration, followed by a slowdown in new permits after the total ban was lifted. Quest estimates more than 60,000 jobs were lost primarily because of reduced Gulf spending by energy companies in response to administration policies.

Key findings:

  • Total offshore-related oil and gas employment could hit 430,000 in 2013 if the permit slowdown is reversed, including about 187,000 new jobs.
  • New policies could result in a 71 percent increase in oil and natural gas spending in the Gulf to $41.4 billion.
  • Texas (will reach 149,000 jobs) and Louisiana (129,000) would gain the most from a return to normalcy in the Gulf, but the jobs impact would touch a number of non-Gulf states as well - including California, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan, Quest says.
  • Tax revenues would accrue to all levels of government "if the government pursues a balanced regulatory approach that allows for the timely development of the backlog of (Gulf) projects in an environmentally responsible manner." Said API President and CEO Jack Gerard: "We need to create taxpayers, and that's what this would be doing."

The key is a change in the administration's policies. More from Gerard:

"The unnecessarily slow pace of Gulf development ... has cost jobs, revenue and energy production. The study shows what could be accomplished on the jobs front if project approvals and permits could get back to normal. We've done the hard work raising the bar on safety. Now, we need to fully get back to business in the Gulf producing the energy our nation needs."

Before last year's moratorium, more than 30 percent of oil and 11 percent of the natural gas produced in the United States came from the Gulf. The Energy Information Administration projects that production there will be down about 20 percent from 2010 levels in 2012. That's lost energy, and, as the Quest study shows, lost economic opportunity.

The good news is recovery can happen relatively fast. The industry is willing and able. Is the administration?


Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Mark also was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela live in Occoquan, Va., where they enjoy their four grandchildren.