Shale Gas Industry Continues to Add Jobs at Rapid Pace

Even though the economy is in the dumper, the price for oil and gas is dropping and unemployment is at record highs, the natural gas industry—shale gas in particular—is adding jobs at a rapid pace. The entire energy sector including oil and gas is on track to add 200,000 jobs in 2011—an astonishing number given economic conditions.

Despite a big drop in oil and stock prices in recent days, U.S. energy companies bearing down on the country’s shale fields have yet to waver from plans to add staff this year to boost domestic production.

The industry is hiring as it brings new U.S. supply on line and demand grows from power-generation companies switching to natural gas from coal or fuel oil.

“Our industry is competing for talent,” said Jim Haynes, vice president for U.S. operations at Spectra Energy Corp. “We continue our hiring mode.”

Spectra Energy, for example, expects to add staff as part of plans by the pipeline firm and its affiliates to add up to $10 billion in infrastructure in the next five years.

The Independent Petroleum Association of America projects as many as 200,000 new jobs in the energy patch from hundreds of oil and gas producers in 2011.

“I don’t think the threat of a double-dip recession will stop many companies from hiring,” said Jeff Eshelman, spokesman for the trade group of oil and gas producers, once known as “wildcatters.”

“Overall, the natural-gas industry is one that is adding people, not scaling back,” Haynes added. “We’ve seen at least a 15% increase, industry-wide, over the past several years, even during the downturn.” Last year, Spectra hired 130 people and it’s already brought on about 129 this year.*

*MarketWatch (Aug 9, 2011) – Help wanted: Energy firms competing for hires