Energy & Environment

Despite Robust Oil Prices, Texas Oil And Gas Recovery Slower Than Previously Estimated

Revised numbers show the industry has recovered less than 9,000 jobs since last September.

Texas’ oil and gas industry is only slowly recovering from the pandemic slump.

As of Thursday morning, the price of West Texas Intermediate crude was above $69 a barrel, almost twice of what it was one year ago — but the robust price of oil is not translating into a strong employment recovery after the pandemic worsened an already slumping industry.

According to the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers' Texas Petro Index, other major indicators including rig count and drilling permits issued are also up, marking the fourth straight increase in the monthly index.

Karr Ingham, petroleum economist at the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers, said this shows that recovery for the state's oil and gas industry is well underway after nearly two years of economic contraction.

"Beyond that, though, where we are right now is clearly well below of where we were in advance of the contraction," Ingham said. "And so in terms of just aggregate activity levels, the upstream oil and gas economy in Texas has a long way to go to get back to where it was prior to the contraction."

The oil and gas sector in Texas shed 63,000 jobs from February to September 2020, and the Texas Workforce Commission previously estimated that Texas had recovered more than 17,600 of those jobs by July 2021.

But according to Ingham, only 8,800 oil and gas jobs have been recouped.

"If you're looking at that primary number and taking that as gospel, you're assuming that the industry and its employment recovery is more robust thus far...than is actually the case," he said.

Ingham pointed to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, which constantly revises its employment numbers. The monthly figures are estimates based on surveys and subject to revision once more data is available.

Data from the Texas Workforce Commission will not be revised until spring 2022.