Despite a turbulent period for world economies, investment experts believe that there are green shoots of optimism starting to poke through, particularly in the oil and gas sector. Thanks to a surge in prices for crude oil, the industry is starting to feel that, if not yet completely out of the darkest days of the recession, then at least things are a little more stable than six months ago. Companies that have been warning of extensive job cuts in drilling jobs, oil rig jobs and other oil careers are now more optimistic that these jobs are a little more secure than they were before.

A 49% increase in Kern oil prices over the last two months appears to have stabilized local oil-related employment, despite worries that the higher prices could negatively effect the rest of the economy. Some producers may be more cautious in their approach and, while not currently actively hiring rig crews, are not as quick to cut jobs as they were some months ago. They are, however, still waiting to see if the prices stabilize or increase further before they invest in upgrades. If oil prices stay above US$50-60/barrel then the industry as a whole could see a new surge in activity and start actively hiring drilling and maintenance teams.

This isn’t a new dawn (not yet, anyway) for the oil industry and there is still a great deal of financial uncertainty within the industry. The hardest hit countries such as the USA, the UK, Japan and the Euro-Zone are still taking it one day at a time, with figures showing the economies of these countries in a ‘holding pattern’ of almost zero growth over the last quarter. But the oil industry is still seen as one of the best investment areas and predictions are that with a wealth of new projects coming online this year and production of oil and gas on the up, the industry could be one of the first to push itself out of recession and back into positive growth into 2010.

Equity experts are predicting that certain sectors are still looking bullish because of ample liquidity and cite the oil and gas industry as one of the best bets for investment potential. The knock-on effect of this is potentially a surge in the fortunes of heavy industry and steel manufacture as these sectors ride the benefit of increased investment in oil and gas exploration. Analysts are also positive about the oil and gas industry because they believe that oil prices will stabilize at around the US$60/barrel mark, which is enough to boost the industry back into positive growth as it is higher than estimated costs for both shallow and deep water production (estimated at US$20 and US$40-50/barrel respectively). Consequently, as long as the investment continues into the business, analysts predict that new jobs should follow, benefiting local supporting companies in particular in terms of order-book replenishment and sustained charter rates.

This positive approach is a universal phenomenon, with oil and gas companies all over the world reporting new exploration proposals, increased activity in existing fields and the growth of satellite companies that supply the industry consolidating and even increasing employment numbers. Jobs in oil and gas are looking to be more of a growth market and those with experience and the right qualifications can feel a little more secure in their careers. As long as that price stays over the US$60 mark, the world oil and gas industries will be in a better position to lead other industries out of the recession at a rate that will ensure we do not encounter another boom/bust situation further down the line.

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