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Automation also comes for the oil jobs

Photo: Ian Forsyth (Getty)

When experts, politicians or advocates spoke of the need to reduce fossil fuel production to combat climate change, one of the most common drawbacks was to move to the most central place to turn American worries – it creates many jobs. Funders in the oil industry often criticize the idea that many decent jobs are being created. It's also why Trump loves coal. These are generally perceived as very solid and very American jobs.

We now know that comparatively very few coal jobs are left over. But oil and gas companies are automating their workforce and there will be less soon. Last week, I looked at the many ways that tech companies like Google are helping the oil industry deploy AI and automate their processes. The focus was on the fact that Silicon Valley was looking for profit in the extraction of fossil fuels at the height of climate change, but the subtext stated that fewer workers would be employed in this sector.

That's what I'm interested in Read a story from a local paper in Houston, the historic headquarters of the US oil and gas industry headlined "Technology leads to slow growth in energy jobs despite the recovery of the oil industry." The Community Impact newspaper noted that since the oil and gas downturn in 2014, the industry has lost more than 86,000 jobs in the Houston area, recovering only about 24,400, according to the GHP. "

Some fast-paced backgrounds – in the oil industry, jobs are likely to be largely tied to oil demand; When the price of oil is high, the sector is booming, when it is low, the layoffs are hit. In the years following this downturn, which started in 2014, dozens, even hundreds of thousands of jobs were lost in the oil, gas and mining sectors. Just look at this wild momentum, thanks to a graph from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Typically, the boom-bust-boom cycle is associated with a resurgence of jobs. This time this does not happen, at least not nearly to the same extent – thanks to process automation and better pumping technologies. "In general, technological progress is leading to lower labor intensity across the energy system," the International Energy Agency said in 2017 after oil prices recovered. "For example, a drop in US jobs for oil and gas by 30 percent from its peak in 2014 to its low in 2016 was only accompanied by a slight decline in output."

This was followed by $ 47 billion the digitization of parts of oil production according to the IEA. As far as I understand it covers everything from software automation to the interconnection of drilling rigs to the automation of drilling systems. Consequently, tens of thousands of lost workers represented only a small decrease in oil production.

And the trend seems to be holding. Here is the story of Houston again in 2019:

Cindy Taylor, President and CEO of Oil States International, said that overall job growth this year will be easy, even with crude oil prices recovering slightly. Taylor said the oil and gas industry is competing with more efficient technologies, reducing the need for new jobs.

"There will be employment growth, but we can not forget that we can do more with less," she said. "This is by no means a unique topic for energy. We are all talking about how to re-use our workforce to optimize what we have with digital technology.

This was followed by a variety of other reports of the decline in jobs in the industry in recent years. However, as it becomes increasingly clear that automation will eliminate many jobs through wear and tear, oil, with its booming and congested employment cycle, will be particularly prone to lower its employment levels – most likely, according to management. [19659004] The argument for fossil fuels for jobs has been losing ground for years, especially as the use of solar energy has outperformed that of the oil and gas sector in some respects and, of course, was based on a shaky premise at best – albeit not one's livelihood contributes to climate change The focus should be on finding and changing to other ways of working.

However, the persistent fossil fuel as the myth of job creators will fail, as automation will dismiss its workforce.

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