Back in the Flow: Oil and Gas Looks to Rebound in 2021

You can add the Texas oil and gas industry to the long list of those happy to see the end of 2020. Like so many other economic sectors, it was an absolutely brutal year for energy---with crude oil prices plummeting into negative territory at one point, oil rigs shutting down, and companies cutting tens of thousands of jobs. "We've lost about 80,000 (oil and gas) jobs since the latter part of 2018, and about 60,000 of those in Texas were just in 2020 as a result of the pandemic," says Karr Ingham, petroleum economist with the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers.

The battered industry is seeing reason for cautious optimism as the calendar turns to 2021, thanks in part to rising crude oil prices. Last week, crude oil surpassed $49 a barrel for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began last spring. "(The industry) will soon be fine, if these prices we're seeing toward year-end of 2020 are a precursor of things to come," Ingham tells KTRH.

Gas prices have also ticked up in recent weeks, due to the rise in crude prices combined with growing demand due to holiday travelers on the road.

Already, rising oil prices and gasoline demand have led to the start of a modest rebound, but there is a massive hole to climb out of. "We are adding just a handful of oil and gas jobs in Texas now, very slowly month by month, and I think recovery in the oil patch is going to take awhile," says Ingham. "This will be sort of like standing up the dominoes after they've fallen---price comes first, then rig count, drilling permits and some of those sorts of things---and then jobs."

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