Have you guys heard about oil? It crashed, big time.
The price at closing today was $47.26/bbl (bbl = oil barrel, or 42 gallons), a decrease of almost 50% in three months. The U.S. has stacked about 250 rigs since November and that number is increasing at a rate of about 50-60 per week (74 last week). Stacking a rig means taking it out of commission from drilling operations by releasing or breaking your contract with the service provider. For me, the rig count is a better indicator of future activity than the $/bbl. If operators expected oil to go up again in the near future, they would weather through and keep the operations going. Such a drastic decline tells me that we should settle in to the lower prices for a while.
What that means for you is that you are filling up your car for a lot less. That is something that makes me short-term happy when I stop for gas.
But what that means for people in my business, if you haven’t been laid off yet, is that it’s time to work even harder. You have to make yourself indispensable to the company, so they want to keep you when they start handing out pink slips. I’ve been in the energy industry for nine years and have already made it through one downturn. It was an entire year of being worried every time you got a phone call from the office, because you were sure that was the call that would put you out of work. I finally got some security by agreeing to move to Pennsylvania. Yes – I had to move across the country and live in a hotel to ensure that I would get my next paycheck.
I would rather not move to Pennsylvania again. I would rather have a job where I always know I’ll have work and I’ll always know where I’m going to be living in a year.
Unfortunately, I just have to deal with it because I can’t imagine doing anything else. I am lucky to have the opportunity to do this work and earn the money I do, but if you compare careers to the stock market, my job would be in the high risk category. There is a potential to earn a lot of money but it’s saddled with the risk of losing it all with no warning. Would you put your retirement account all on black (gold, that is)?
This post diverged a little from the path I envisioned when I started, and in a very dismal way – sorry about that. I really just wanted to let you all know (if anyone is still reading) that I’m still here and still writing. I just have to be smarter about my time to fit it in with all the nose to the grindstone stuff I see on the horizon. I am putting together a whopper of a post that takes a look back at my 2014. I’m hoping to complete it before 2016!