The oil boom in Texas is picking up again, with production surging in the Permian Basin and the Eagle Ford Shale. However, the industry is struggling to find qualified oilfield workers, truck drivers and others who are needed, despite a hiring spree in the past year. Now, industry experts and some state leaders are blaming bad publicity for the difficulty in finding new recruits. This week, Texas Railroad Commissioner Wayne Christian told the state House Energy Resources Committee that misinformation and poor education about the oil and gas industry is causing young people to turn away from it. Christian cited a survey showing a large portion of millennials don't want to work in the energy industry.
Other industry experts agree that bad press is hurting the oil and gas industry. "Whether it's fracking is dangerous and causes bad water, or earthquakes, or climate change, it's just that - it's disinformation," says Baron Lukas, oil/gas expert with EnviroLogic Solutions. "It makes me nauseous to think about people globally thinking of petroleum or hydrocarbon fuels as being bad, when they've done more good for human society than any other form of energy."
Lukas also counters the oft-reported claim that the Earth is running out of fossil fuels. "The reality is we've got more than 200 years of oil, probably 400 years of gas and 3,000 years of coal in this country," he tells KTRH.
Texas will have to find those new workers, one way or another. Because there is no sign the energy boom will be slowing down anytime soon. In fact, the International Energy Agency predicts the U.S. will surpass Russia as the world's top oil producer this year mainly because of the Permian Basin region.
Lukas hopes the industry will be more aggressive in telling its story to the public. "Energy independence is the greatest thing this country can ever do for itself, and cleanly burning those fossil fuels is what we have been doing for the last 25 years," he says.