A wildcatter is an individual who drills wildcat wells, which are exploration of oil wells drilled in areas not known to be oil fields. The term dates from the early oil industry in western Pennsylvania. Oil wells in unproven territory were called “wild cat” wells from mid-1870, and those who drilled them were called “wild-catters” by 1876.wikipedia
The oil industry is all up in arms over the demand that they produce more oil now to compensate for the loss of Russian oil on the markets. They just can’t do it, they say. It’ll take a year, they project. There aren’t workers to do the jobs we need done, they complain. All of it is bullshit. All of it.
Two years ago the oil producers were begging for money from the government to cap and plug wells in West Texas and New Mexico. They were desperate to get active wells reclassified as orphan wells because the wells weren’t producing enough to pay the royalties due on them. Not at the negative oil prices then in effect. Now that the price is back in the familiar territories of $100+ a barrel, they’re saying there’s not enough oil and gas and so they have to charge exorbitant prices.
It is true, the oil industry lost billions of dollars during the pandemic lockdowns. They and all the other industries that made their living on people intermingling and traveling across the globe to enjoy their vacations, all of them have had a rough two years of it.
The fact that the world economy is stretched thin is probably why Vladimir Putin picked now to start a Russian civil war in Ukraine and thereby causing the energy panic that has now gripped the world.
Look, Russia is a gas station masquerading as a country,” McCain said. “It’s kleptocracy. It’s corruption. It’s a nation that’s really only dependent upon oil and gas for their economy, and so economic sanctions are important.”John McCain – JANUARY 8, 2015
More sanctions on oil? Americans were already complaining about high oil prices:
I would have sworn that everyone was onboard with oil prices rising so as to save the oil industry? That seemed to be the mantra under the last president. Now we can’t bear to pay too much for gasoline? Pick one, people. You can’t have it both ways.
I get it, the oil companies are posting record profits for the first time in two years. Great. Maybe they should suck up some of the increased cost instead of raising prices at the gasoline pumps? Sure, that sounds good. I’m sure the investors won’t squall about not getting their larger checks in the mail. Maybe they should squall. Maybe they should get out of the investment business if they think investment should be a certain bet. They aren’t and they shouldn’t be.
I guarantee you that if the US government lit a fire under oil company CEO’s asses they could go find some more oil tomorrow, not in a year. You might not see an increased flow of oil for a few months, but then we shouldn’t see a serious tightening in oil and gasoline availability for a few months, either. It won’t do much good for the political maneuvers that need to be conducted right now, but that is how things work out in the real world.
As for there not being workers, that is a flat-out lie. There are plenty of people willing to work if you’ll pay them. That is the catch, after all. The cost of living has gone up in cities across the nation. You can no longer work for even fifteen dollars an hour and be able to afford a place in most major cities. You should pay no more than 30% of your wages on housing costs and apartments average out around 1500 in Austin. One person living alone might be able to swing the cost of an apartment, but that is a dead-end life of no love, no children and no fun.
My grandfather was raised in Kansas. He used to tell me stories of working on his Uncle’s farm just outside of Scott, Kansas. When he decided it was time to go out and make his mark in the world, he moved to Texas and started working in the then newly discovered oil patch. Over the course of ten or fifteen years he made enough money to buy a large spread of land in the next county over from his Uncle’s. That is what being well-paid looks like. Workers who put in their time and then leave to go do the things they really want to do. Nobody wants to spend their life working the rigs in the oil field. Nobody should spend their whole life doing it unless they want it to be a pretty short life.
These days employers pay only what they are required to pay and then complain about how they can’t find quality work anymore. Why not try offering more money? There is a thing that every corporate leader expects these days, and it is a crime that this thing even exists. They call it the golden parachute. These benefits are paid out in addition to the outrageous stacks of cash that they are paid for every day they hold their jobs.
Oil executives should make less money than the roughnecks that work for them. This is a plain fact that can’t be stated baldly enough. Unless these guys are willing to get out on the rigs and do the dirty work along with their crews, they should be paid office scale for comfortable office work. Their benefits should include not being killed on the job. Not being maimed on the job. Not being forced out of work by repeated injuries that leave you disabled, but not disabled enough to earn disability benefits.
If you started paying the roughnecks the wages that they deserve, I guarantee you that you will get the workers you need to get oil out of the ground faster than we can use it. It has happened before and it can happen again. It just takes a willingness to put the chips on the table and force the play. Are you in, or are you out?
Featured image: Dallas Morning News – The Railroad Commission does what?
I hate to break it to Fran Hart but substack is the blogger of 2019. Give it time. “I have a substack” will be derided like blogs are today in a very short order, especially with people like her publishing on the platform. If people come to my blog it’s because they think my writing is worth reading. I don’t have to force people to wade through my spam every day to get to what they want in their inboxes.
The oil price spike happened at the time that it did because the glut ended and the demand went up and the need to drill more became evident, not because of some mystical handwaving thing having to do with people not being willing to work. It is the boom/bust or profit/loss cycle. That’s all. No mystery to solve here.
The spike hit because American automakers stopped making cars and switched to monster trucks for morons who didn’t believe gas prices would go up again.Dan Tolliver