Forbes reports nearly 74,000 oil workers have been laid off since spot prices plummeted in Q4’14, with 58,624 (or nearly 80%) of the workers coming from the oil service side. Major companies like Schlumberger, Baker Hughes, Pemex, Weatherford and Halliburton have each extended the disheartening news to more than 6,000 employees. Forbes opened up its comment section for its readers to update the publication with additional info on other layoffs, attempting to make the list as exhaustive as possible.
Rounding out the job cut list included sectors like E&P (7,712 losses), manufacturing (4,855) and pipeline (2,758), with companies ranging in size from small trucking groups to supermajors. The list is at 73,949 total job losses at this time of writing. Forbes says the oil and gas industry employs about 600,000 people in the United States alone.
Enter: Saudi Aramco?
Saudi Aramco, meanwhile, has been posting new jobs in an attempt to lure unemployed Americans to the Middle East. An energy recruiter told Bloomberg that it has been historically difficult to place Americans in the region but has noticed workers to be “more accepting” of the possibility in such difficult times.
The Aramco web site is outfitted with a complete guide of what to expect while living in Saudi Arabia, including the quality of schools, popular vacation spots, positive testimonials and details of local communities. Of the 34 different types of positions available, skills in unconventional drilling are the most sought-after, with 35 available positions. A position posted on LinkedIn drew 160 applicants in one month. Saudi Arabia’s massive oil reserves (267 billion barrels as of 2013, the second-most in the world) had previously made hydraulic fracturing unnecessary, but Aramco kicked off its unconventional shale drilling program earlier this year with an investment of $7 billion. Last week, a note from Barclays said eight shale gas wells have been drilled to date.
But the United States Embassy is wary of Americans accepting such jobs, and issued a warning on its site on March 13, 2015. The posting cautions “Western oil workers” that they could be targets of terrorist organizations and urges extra precautions. “Regardless of where you are, it is always advisable to keep your security and situational awareness levels high,” says the advisory, which lists eight different social security precautions. The Embassy ceased operations for a handful of days citing “heightened security concerns” and has yet to return to the facility.
Dangers in OPEC’s top oil producing country appear to have escalated in the past year. The Department of State has issued two Travel Warnings since August 2014, with the latest warning describing five attacks that have been directly intended for American or other Western nationalities since October.
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