Monday, March 3, 2008

Manhunt in the Oil Fields-2008 Version

"With energy prices soaring and oil-company ranks graying, petroleum-engineering graduates have become a hot commodity. ... Top-ranking petroleum-engineering graduates this year can expect starting pay of $80,000 to $100,000, plus signing bonuses and other perks. Enrollment cratered to 1,387 students nationwide in 1990 from a high of 11,014 students in 1983, according to data collected by Lloyd Heinze, a professor of petroleum engineering at Texas Tech in Lubbock. ... This academic year, there were 3,710 undergraduates nationwide pursuing petroleum-engineering degrees--twice as many as four years ago and the highest since 1986, according to Mr. Heinze's data. ... While happy with the turnaround in attitudes, oil companies want to make sure that the pipeline stays full. ... One advantage for the oil companies: Today's students are too young to remember the bad times", WSJ, 21 February 2008.

"Ask just about any oil executive what he considers his No. 1 headache, and he will undoubtedly bemoan the the dearth at his company of high-caliber earth scientists, the term that loosely describes the foot soldiers of the hydrocarbon hunt: geologists, geophysicists, and petroleum engineers. ... The real manhunt, however, is not for fresh-scrubbed college graduates, but for seasoned veterans whose skills have been polished by training in the best finishing schools around, the major oil companies. ... But the hook that most often snags earth scientists is something no major, and virtually no oil company whose shares are publicly traded, has yet offered its full-time employees: a piece of the action. ... The earth sciences are a booming discipline in the colleges now", Alexander Stuart (AS) "Manhunt in the Oil Fields", Fortune, 6 October 1980.

Look at AS's 1980, yes, 1980 article and the WSJ's recent article. My conclusion: we have a long way to go to return to late 1980 oil patch conditions. In the meantime, let the good times roll. The Fortune article appeared about 18 months before the peak in oil patch employment.

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