Keystone XL pipeline routeWe, at the Bakken Oil Business Journal, offer our unambiguous support of a project important to meeting American energy needs, the Keystone XL Pipeline.

The Keystone XL Pipeline is a proposed 1,179 mile, 36-inch-diameter crude oil pipeline that goes through a number of states and provinces on its route south, including Alberta and Saskatchewan in Canada, and Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska in the U.S. Along with transporting crude oil from Canada, the Keystone XL Pipeline will transport oil from producers in Texas, Oklahoma, Montana and North Dakota.

Building awareness of the need for smart policy about our land and waters and how drilling impacts them isn’t an easy sell in a state whose residents continue to derive so much personal financial benefit from the oil and gas industry.

In the matter of Keystone, the environmental lobby is just plain wrong, as it is a safe and needed addition to America’s network of pipelines that gets oil to market. And there is precious little evidence to the contrary.

Until alternative fuel sources become competitive in availability and cost with our existing carbon-based mainstream supply, we have little choice but to rely on fossil fuels. This pesky fact just can’t be denied. Surely, we hope that time will come sooner rather than later, and we heartily support government funding of innovation to speed arrival of that day. But even the most knowledgeable and enthusiastic of environmentalists know that day is not right around the corner.

In the meantime, regardless of the worldwide climate crisis in which we’re fully engaged, it’s in our collective interest to facilitate America’s relentless need for the oil that runs our cars, heats and cools our homes and powers our factories. The Keystone will facilitate this by getting oil extracted from the buried sands of our friendly Canadian neighbor, down to our U.S. refineries to be converted to gasoline and related products.

Recent, objective studies show Keystone to be the safest, most environmentally secure and least expensive means to get the product to market. And now that the U.S. State Department has announced it found no major basis to oppose the project after an intensive and long-awaited review, it’s time for President Obama to provide his needed seal of approval.

Television and Radio talk show host Sean Hannity will give keynote address
By Tessa Sandstrom

“The Best is Yet to Come!”

This was the promise from the 2012 Williston Basin Petroleum Conference (WBPC) when it was last held in Bismarck. The slogan, of course, spoke about the potential of the Bakken and Three Forks formations in North Dakota, Montana and Saskatchewan and the tremendous economic and career opportunities it brings to our region. With the WBPC now just weeks away, however, that slogan could also apply to this year’s conference, with more than 400 exhibitors and a great line-up of speakers signed up to attend.

The 2012 conference sold out in a record time of 17 minutes, but that record was eclipsed this January when booth space sold out within four minutes and more than 800 people were still online trying to secure their space. Hotel rooms for Bismarck-Mandan are already booked, and this year is promising to be the largest WBPC yet.
It’s no wonder; the Bakken continues to draw national and international attention, with reporters, ambassadors and leaders visiting from countries like Japan, Norway, Australia, India, Germany and others as the Bakken has helped make North Dakota a Cinderella Story of sorts. Where our state once only topped the lists of states with the largest outmigration of young people or states with the oldest population, North Dakota has now found itself atop lists ranking the best states for young people, the best states for job creation, and the happiest states.

HANNITY PHOTODespite being more than eight years into what is often called the Bakken “Boom” (a boom it is not, but rather a continually growing play and industry), this limelight and attention is still a rather new phenomenon for North Dakota, which was once cast aside as nothing more than a flyover state or a buffalo commons. Now, we continue to attract renowned journalists and commentators, including television and radio personality, Sean Hannity. After interviewing Billings County Commissioner and industry leader Jim Arthaud of MBI Energy Services on his radio program, Sean Hannity agreed to see the Bakken for himself and will be the keynote speaker at this year’s WBPC. Arthaud personally invited Hannity to the conference to be a keynote speaker and will also host Hannity on a tour of the Bakken.

Hannity has often highlighted North Dakota on his show and in his blog as an example for the nation in creating jobs, growing our economy, and moving us toward energy independence. “Unleash our resources. Unleash the ingenuity of American innovators. Unleash the work ethic of Americans desperate to work hard and earn a good living. We have the ability to be a thriving nation,” he wrote. And, as we will see and learn from many of the speakers at this year’s WBPC, that’s exactly what we’ve done in North Dakota and will continue to do.

As a well-known speaker, journalist, author and political commentator, Hannity has no doubt traveled the nation. We are excited to hear Hannity’s perspective about how our little state of North Dakota and our neighbors, Montana and Saskatchewan, are making a difference throughout the nation and even the world. We also look forward to introducing him to the many men and women who have helped develop the Bakken through technology and innovation that has helped make the Williston Basin a leader in the national energy renaissance, bringing us closer to energy security and reviving the American Dream.

Hannity, of course, is not our only well-known and renowned speaker. Also joining him will be some of the energy leaders themselves, including Continental CEO Harold Hamm, Oasis Petroleum CEO Tommy Nusz, Marathon CEO Lee Tillman, and Whiting Petroleum CEO Jim Volker who will discuss the industry’s future in North Dakota. More than 70 other speakers will addressing topics covering Bakken pipeline and rail infrastructure, impacts, flaring technologies, Bakken optimization, geology and more.

While all of these great talks will be open only to WBPC attendees, new to this year’s conference will be two Bakken Education Sessions. These sessions will be held at the Ramkota Ballroom and are free and open to the public. Ron Ness of the North Dakota Petroleum Council, Kathy Neset, a geologist and owner of Neset Consulting Service, and Alison Ritter of the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources will each give presentations on the basics of Bakken geology, drilling, and hydraulic fracturing and take questions from the audience. Two separate sessions will be held Tuesday, May 20, with one beginning at 1:30 p.m. and another beginning at 3:30 p.m., and we encourage the public to come and learn more about this burgeoning industry.

For more information about the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference, visit

Infograph by Hart Energy
Retrieved April 8, 2014

The Bakken is one of North America’s largest oil-rich shale plays. Longer horizontal well bores and widespread use of hydraulic fracturing spurred soaring production. North Dakota now ranks second among U.S. oil-producing states – and a large portion of the domestic drilling rig fleet will be retrofitted to walking or skidding systems by year-end. More than 70% of Bakken oil moves by rail tank car, giving crude-by-rail the leading role for getting Bakken production to market. Economic impacts are seen state-wide as North Dakota proudly claims the nation’s lowest unemployment and a per-person gross domestic output significantly higher than the national average.

The Burgeoning Bakken, to learn more about the Bakken shale play and whats happening in the different shale plays visit the Unconventional Oil and Gas Center, a Hart Energy publication.

Publisher’s preface: Every morning we’re inundated with sensationalized accounts of events that are presented as news when, in fact, these accounts are accusing diatribes built on finger-pointing and fact-omissions. We’re digesting our morning coffee along with emotionally charged rants created to serve the agendas of those who prepare them, rants that turn the front page into the editorial page.

Too often the target is the U.S. Oil & Gas Industry, the industry that’s worn a BULLSEYE on its back for the last few decades while, ironically, providing the country’s economy with one of the most important elements for growth: low-cost energy. However, since we at the Bakken Oil Business Journal know the U.S. Oil & Gas Industry is the industry that opens the door to increasing the prosperity of the US more than any other, I present you with something real, an account of some hard-working folks who are showing the world why the US is the greatest country in the world, why it is the land of the free and home of the brave.

By:  Marissa van der Valk

027Travis Cooksey is the Safety Coordinator for Continental Resources in North Dakota and Montana.  He performs safety inspections on workover rigs, drilling rigs and well sites.  His overall duties include finding ways to keep the men and women out of harms way in the Bakken oil patch.

How does a California surfer end up in the oil fields of North Dakota?  The simple answer could be that he drove there, but life’s journey wasn’t so simple.  It involved biotechnology, the US Navy, a pregnant wife, a fifth wheel and the love of family and country.

Travis Cooksey was born in Redondo Beach, California located in Los Angeles County, which is known for its white sandy beaches and spectacular surfing. Travis is the baby in a family of four boys. He spent his formative years in Camarillo, California, a suburb 45 miles north of Los Angeles. He was a state ranked 800 meter runner in high school and qualified for Nationals in his senior year.  After high school, Travis first jobs were as a pool cleaner and asbestos remover.

He was first introduced to surfing about 20 years ago through a neighbor turned best friend Leroy, who gave him a wetsuit and surfboard for his birthday. Travis describes this gift as the gift that kept on giving. He started surfing and fell in love with catching the next big wave.

Travis-US FlagIn 1990, Travis was hired to work at bio-technology company Amgen Inc located in Thousand Oaks, California.  For the next 13 years Travis worked as a lab technician in the human genomics laboratory. His coworkers describe Travis as being a hard worker with a penchant for telling hilarious stories. He was also described as being fiercely loyal to his family and his country. This is why at 34 years old Travis decided to join the US Navy.

Travis enlisted in the Navy in 2003 at the ripe old age of 34 just one year away from the cut off age.  And his decision to enlist was triggered by the tragic events on September 11, 2001.  He joined through the Navy’s Delayed Entry Program (DEP) which is a program designed to give the recruit some time to get their life in order before going to boot camp. Travis describes his time in boot camp as ‘not an easy time’.

The training instructors tended to be harder on recruits who were over thirty years old.  Travis describes himself as a highly dedicated loyal American with a heart full of patriotism so even though boot camp was difficult, no one was going to stop him from reaching his goal to succeed.

Travis went into the Navy as a reservist, but right after graduation from hospital corps school he received THE letter from President Bush putting him on full active duty status. He was first stationed at Great Lakes in Illinois and then was stationed in Port Hueneme, California. He also spent time at Camp Pendleton and ended his military career at Point Mugu.  He was attached to shore duty hospitals and squadrons with service to the special E.O.D. (explosive ordinance disposal) unit.

He received three NAM’s (Navy Achievement Medal) awards.  Travis had a tough time finding work in California, Oregon and Washington six months prior to being released from active duty.  And after 8 years in the US Navy Travis was faced with a decision, re-enlist for another tour of duty or go to work for the brother of his Navy Chief, who was hauling crude oil in Williston, North Dakota.

The US Navy’s loss was the Bakken’s gain when Travis decided to take the job in the booming oil patch of North Dakota. He was honorably discharged as a Petty Officer Second Class (PO2).

Driving in the snow - travisTravis is the father to four sons: Brandon 22, Braydon 12, Tayln 5, Pacey 2, and he and his wife Michelle are currently expecting their first daughter in July. He moved to Williston in October of 2011. He and Michelle, who was pregnant with Pacey at the time of making the move to North Dakota, loaded up their fifth wheel and took Talyn and their dog on the 1,600 mile drive to Williston.

Travis worked for Montana Mid-West Trucking, which is a sub-contractor for Plains Oil. Their first winter in North Dakota was a tough one; his wife, Tayln, Pacey (Brandon and Braydon live in California) and a dog lived in a 31 foot fifth wheel in the harsh winter of the Midwest. Travis was determined to get his family in a house before the next winter. After working for Montana Mid-West Trucking, he received a job working at Jacam Chemicals hauling chemicals. He worked for Jacam for a little over a year.

Travis was not able to get his family into a home at the start of their second winter in Williston.  He had a house built and with Michelle expecting their newly expected edition he could not have picked a better time.

When asked what he loves best about living in Williston and North Dakota Travis said: “I love the cold and the snow. I also love the people. It is one of the few places left with old school thinking and privileged rights of American freedom” for which he fought while serving his country.

rig-sunrise-travisTravis misses the life of a surfer and his family in California, but he has found a new home working and living in the Bakken of Western North Dakota and Eastern Montana.

Travis is one very proud American who still listens to the National Anthem before work every morning and Taps before bedtime each night.


Travis Cooksey and Marissa van der Valk were co-workers at Amgen, a pharmaceutical company, at their Thousand Oaks, CA headquarters.  Travis worked in the same laboratory with Marissa in which she performed DNA sequencing experiments for the Human Genome Project.  Marissa now lives in Basking Ridge, New Jersey and is the daughter of Bob van der Valk , the Senior Editor of the Bakken Oil Business Journal.

North Dakota Director’s Cut Newsletter – January 2014
NDIC Department of Mineral Resources – Lynn Helms

January 2014 – Total Crude Oil Production 28,926,977 barrels = 933,128 barrels/day.  The all-time high was 976,453 barrels in November 2013.

871,672 barrels per day or 93% were from Bakken and Three Forks Formations.
There are over 100 wells shut in for the Tioga gas plant conversion in an attempt to minimize flaring, but the biggest production impact story continues to be the weather. January temperatures were only 6 degrees below normal with only 3 days too cold for fracturing work, and there were no major snow events with 12 days of sustained wind chill speeds too high for well completion work.

Over 95% of drilling still targets the Bakken and Three Forks formations. At the end of January 2014 there were about 660 wells waiting on completion services, an increase of 25.

Crude oil take away capacity is expected remain adequate as long as rail deliveries to coastal refineries keep growing.


For reasons of efficiency the Department of State is encouraging electronic submittal of comments through the federal government’s eRulemaking Portal. To submit comments electronically, visit this link:!documentDetail;D=DOS-2014-0003-0001

This is a 30-day public comment period and the deadline date is Friday, March 7th at 11:59 p.m. (EST).

Download Letter 1
Download Letter 2


  • During construction, the report suggests that the project would support about 42,000 direct/indirect jobs, approximately $2 billion of earnings throughout the United States, and contribute about $3.4 billion to US GDP.


  • The Final SEIS finds if this project goes ahead, we will see fewer spills, fewer injuries, and fewer fatalities when compared to the alternative of transporting crude oil by rail. On top of that, this project will result in lower GHG emissions; the Final SEIS finds that under any of the alternative scenarios where the project is denied, you will see greater GHG emissions from the movement of this oil.
    • The updated analysis in the Final SEIS concludes that the proposed Project is unlikely to significantly affect the rate of extraction in the oil sands.
  • The Final SEIS states that under any of the scenarios where the project is denied, GHG emissions from the movement of this oil would actually increase – 28 per cent more GHGs if all the oil is railed to the Gulf Coast, 42 per cent higher GHGs if a combination of rail and new pipelines is used.

Energy Security:

  • The Keystone XL Pipeline will increase energy security, and with the growth of domestic production in the U.S. and Canada, connecting the third largest resource of oil in the world to the largest refining center in the world can do nothing but increase energy security.
  • As the Final SEIS points out, the demand persists for imported heavy crude oil by U.S. refineries optimized to process heavy crude. As Canadian production of bitumen from the oil sands continues to grow, the vast majority is currently exported to the United States to be processed by U.S. refineries.
    • The U.S. is a net importer of crude oil. The International Energy Agency and US Energy Information Administration (EIA) have both forecast that the U.S. will still need to import oil to meet its domestic demand for decades, despite growing oil production in the U.S. Today, the United States consumes 15 million barrels of oil per day and imports eight million barrels. The EIA forecast in 2012 stated that the U.S. will continue to import 7.5 million barrels of oil per day into 2035 to meet its needs.


  • As a Company, we are committed to doing the very best and we will continue to operate Keystone XL, once complete, in the safest and most efficient way that we can. It’s our commitment to the public, it’s our commitment to our customers, and it’s a commitment we take very seriously.
    • As stated in the Final SEIS, the U.S. Department of State, in consultation with PHMSA, has determined that incorporation of the 59 conditions would result in a Project that would have a degree of safety over any other typically constructed domestic oil pipeline system under current code.


  • Keystone XL is not an export pipeline. The U.S. consumes 15 million barrels of oil a day and imports seven to eight million barrels. Both the U.S. Energy Information Administration and the International Energy Agency predict America will continue to import millions of barrels of oil each day until at least 2040.
  • So what we are really talking about is a choice – a choice made all that more relevant with the recent unrest in Syria and Egypt – do Americans want their crude oil from a friendly partner in Canada or will they continue to rely on unstable regions such as Venezuela and the Middle East? Based on consistent polls since 2011, the findings prove that the majority of Americans continue to support our project.


oilgasawards-logoWith an unprecedented number of entries received for the Rocky Mountain region in the Oil & Gas Awards this year, the organizers are pleased to announce the finalist companies selected by the judges as best in class for the Rocky Mountain region.

The Oil & Gas Awards will be holding the “Conference for Excellence” during the day of the gala dinner. The Conference for Excellence will provide a fantastic opportunity for selected finalists to speak on matters important to their business and to the industry. Professionals attending the conference will have further opportunity to network with other finalists and listen to the wide variety of keynote speeches from leaders in the market. There will also be the chance to contribute to panel debates on key topics. Should you wish to attend the conference and dinner, please contact us.

2013 Rocky Mountain Oil & Gas Awards Finalists:

A&W Water Service
AED Group, LLC
Alpha Transport, Inc.
Anadarko Petroleum Corporation
Austin Exploration
BeneTerra LLC
Bilfinger Westcon Inc.
Bronco Oilfield Services, Inc.
C&J Energy Services
Canary, LLC
Cathedral Energy Services
Cinco Energy Management Group
DA Nolt, Inc.
Davis & Davis Company
Denbury Resources, Inc.
E&B Green Solutions
Express Energy Services
Fortis Energy Services, Inc.
Frank Henry Equipment
Gazelle Transportation, Inc.
GE Oil & Gas Pressure Control
Global Employment Solutions Inc.
Gulf Interstate Engineering
Halker Consulting
High Sierra Energy, LP
JD Field Services Inc.
Kodiak Oil & Gas Corp.
Krohne, Inc.
MDU Resources group, Inc.
NCS Energy Services, Inc.
Northern Plains Trucking
Norton Rose Fulbright
Oasis Petroleum Corporation
Precision Drilling
Precision Placement Services, Inc.
Preferred Sands
Profire Energy, Inc
PTI Group
QC Energy Resources
Rockwater Energy Solutions
RTS Corp
Sage Environmental Consulting, LP
Secure Energy Services
Select Energy Services
Spartan Engineering
Steptoe & Johnson LLP
StratCom Advisors, LLC
Summit Midstream Partners, LP
Target Logistics
TETRA® Technologies, Inc.
Total Safety
Trican Well Service Ltd.
Trinidad Drilling
United NRG
VZ Environmental
Whiting Petroleum Corporation
Worthington Industries

The selected finalists will be invited to attend the conference and the gala dinner on Thursday, March 13, 2014 at the Grand Hyatt in Denver.

For more information, please visit our website on:
Or contact us on +210 591 8471

Wind River Hotel and Casino Ad Banenr

OverlandAviationFracjobBakken_13861980160733PHOTO: OVERLAND AERIAL PHOTOGRAPHY

The Bakken-Three Forks Shale Oil Innovation Conference & Expo will feature presentations on cutting-edge research and industry work designed to optimize several facets of the Bakken and Three Forks shale plays.

The Bakken-Three Forks Shale Oil Innovation Conference & Expo taking place February 10-12 in Grand Forks, N.D., announced its preliminary agenda this week. The sessions will showcase 100+ industry experts who are currently utilizing or developing new technologies, innovations and approaches to yielding greater efficiencies in the Bakken-Three Forks shale formations. In addition, attendees will learn upstream and downstream advancements in the Williston Basin that are impacting shale oil E&P and logistics globally.

There are three program tracks available to attendees during the three-day event:

- Track 1: Drilling, Retrieval & Production Optimization

- Track 2: Product, Service & Resource Utilization

- Track 3: Logistics & Downstream Infrastructure

“We are excited about the high quality of presentations submitted for this event,” says Luke Geiver, Editor and Program Director of the conference. “Because the speakers who submitted are extremely knowledgeable, we are able to showcase the techniques, strategies and technological know-how accelerating the retrieval and movement of remote Williston Basin crude oil from resource to refinement. We are bringing together high-level oil and gas professionals from every segment of the industry to discuss the latest technologies that will be used to extract oil out of shale plays. This show will offer a glimpse into the next wave of technology.”

Geiver later adds, “We are also developing a poster session where college students and researchers can showcase their cutting-edge research to oil and gas executives attending the event.”

The expo hall has already been expanded from the original estimates and BBI International is looking to possibly expand again, due to the high level of interest. “Exhibitors have identified this conference as a powerful platform to share their latest technologies and services with industry decision-makers who are looking for solutions to the challenges they face in one of the most extreme climates,” says Geiver. “More importantly, these solutions are not just limited to the Bakken play — they are critical to the success of oil recovery from every shale formation across the globe. Much of the agenda is geared towards drilling, operating and completion companies who are looking for new efficiencies to make their process more efficient,” Geiver adds. “One of the panels I’m most excited about is the panel titled, Finding the Next Innovation: Cutting-Edge Research Revealed. The speakers will offer a glimpse into the future of the play, and where the next innovation will come from.”

The event is in collaboration with the University of North Dakota College of Engineering & Mines and the Harold Hamm School of Geology & Geological Engineering and will be held at theAlerus Center in Grand Forks, which was the recent site of the North Dakota Petroleum Council’s Annual Meeting. “We decided to hold the conference in Grand Forks for a number of reasons,” says Joe Bryan, CEO of BBI International, the company that owns and operates The Bakken magazine and has 30 years’ experience in managing conferences. “The Grand Forks community is extremely supportive of the developments in the Bakken play and has shown strong support for new and existing businesses that are looking to get involved in North Dakota’s growing oil industry. Second, the facilities in Grand Forks are world-class. The Alerus Center and new surrounding hotels help create a very positive experience for conference attendees.”

To view the agenda or if you are interested in learning more about The Bakken-Three Forks Shale Oil Innovation Conference & Expo please visit

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By Antonio Garza

Mexico took a giant leap toward a new economic future in December 2013 with Congressional passage of a remarkably bold energy reform bill. Both euphoria and hand wringing ensued as Mexico observers and the Mexican people began contemplating the significance to the country of opening its long-protected oil and gas industry.

These emotional reactions, though deeply felt, will soon subside; giving way to the realization that there’s much hard work ahead and that the road to reform is long and potentially strewn with obstacles.

But there’s every reason to believe that President Enrique Peña Nieto’s administration is attuned to the challenges. After all, there’s been quite a lot of discussion-albeit largely of the academic sort-about how to revamp the sector. And Mexico surely stands to benefit from the examples of previous reform efforts in the hemisphere and beyond, namely in Brazil, Colombia, Peru and Norway.

The measure that emerged from Congress last week barely resembled the initial, cautious, proposal presented in August by the governing Party of the Institutional Revolution (PRI). That middle-of-the-road effort, which would have introduced profit-sharing agreements, was judged unappealing by the foreign firms whose investment and expertise Mexico’s energy sector desperately needs to overcome its woes.

And so a new, more transformative piece of legislation was produced by what is known as “the art of political compromise.” It’s a craft that has been evident throughout Peña Nieto’s first year in office, facilitated by the three-party accord known as the Pact for Mexico. But with the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) unwilling to negotiate meaningful change for the energy sector, the Pact inevitably dissolved. The PRI and the conservative National Action Party (PAN) remained at the bargaining table and together produced a reform more far-reaching than many analysts had thought possible.

The approved legislation reforms Mexico’s constitution by ending the oil and electricity monopolies (PEMEX and CFE, the Federal Electricity Commission); allowing private oil companies to explore for and produce oil and gas under a variety of contracts, including services, production or profit-sharing, and licenses; creating a sovereign fund to manage oil revenues; and, revising the nature and governance of the PEMEX board.

It took less than a week for the constitutional changes to be ratified by a majority of state legislatures: 17 of Mexico’s 31 states approved the reform within five days of its Congressional passage. Senate recognition of the state actions and the President’s signature will soon follow.

The proximate step will be far more challenging: translating constitutional reforms into workable policies. This secondary legislation, also called implementing laws, will stipulate the policy framework and legal processes required to carry out the reform.

These measures are highly anticipated and potentially will set the stage for as much as $20 billion a year in new investment in the sector. They must clarify roles (for all actors in the sector, from private companies and regulators to PEMEX, CFE and other government entities) and establish the mechanisms and procedures by which the country’s energy resources will be developed and distributed. Among the details to be addressed are which oil and gas blocs will be developed, when, and under which terms and how costs will be established and recuperated.

Adding to this daunting task is an aggressive time frame stipulated in the reform for developing the follow-on laws and regulations, and pressure from continued political opposition from the left can’t be dismissed as a potential complication.

Still, Mexico has taken the crucial first step toward reforming its energy sector. The arduous work of building a framework and policies that can bring Mexico’s energy sector into the modern era and enable the country to realize its great economic promise is underway. The excitement of this moment is real, for Mexico and anyone concerned about this hemisphere’s future.

Antonio Garza is a former U.S. Ambassador to Mexico. Ambassador Garza is Counsel in the Mexico City office of White & Case and serves as chairman of Vianovo Ventures. Online at Twitter @aogarza

By: Chris Sutton
Picture taken by Kyle Jerome. Derrickhand with Sun Well Service in North Dakota

BOBJ - Picture of oil derricks in the Bakken 12-10-13

The nature of the energy industry can bring frequent changes resulting in professionals reentering the work seeking world.  Some of these changes are beneficial for oil and gas companies.  For example, acquisitions and divestitures (A&D’s) are a part of the asset allocation strategy for oil and gas companies and are constantly evaluated on both a short and long-term basis.

Operators look for assets where geological knowledge of formations is available, and where technical expertise in specific plays can be leveraged for higher margin recovery. Companies divest assets to raise funding for existing asset development or to acquire new assets more closely aligned with long-term strategic goals.

In a survey conducted by Ernst & Young, when Oil & Gas companies were asked to disclose the main causes for an acquisition, the majority of the respondents listed their top two reasons were to gain shares in existing markets and gain shares in new markets.

BOBJ - Ernst and Young Survey Graph 12-10-13

Although A&D’s are typically beneficial, they can still impact the workforce on either side of the transaction.  Other workforce changes are less beneficial – but still somewhat common in the volatile oil industry.  For example, if an exploration and production company loses a major project, they will likely have to downsize their workforce by laying off the contractors hired for that project.

Of course, downsizing also occurs for other reasons, such as shifting resources internally and changing company goals.  Following are some common scenarios for professionals during company changes, as well as tips for preparing to reenter the workforce.

What do workforce changes mean for oil and gas professionals?

When a company divests an asset, several things can happen to a professional’s job position.  Often, the professional will be asked to move with the assets to the acquiring company.  Moving to the new company sometimes means relocating, so some professionals will turn down the offer and start by searching for a new job in their area.  The divesting company usually encourages current employees to go to the new company if they have the option, because they will be laid off if they stay.  Higher-level employees may have the option to accept a retirement package instead of relocating.

In other situations, some professionals might be told the asset is being sold and they’re not being offered a new position at the acquiring company.  These professionals are often laid off because they are no longer being used on a project.  This scenario is similar to E&P companies losing a major project –some contractors may be asked to join another project or assignment, but usually there isn’t enough work available to avoid downsizing.

What should oil and gas professionals do?

Because the scenarios above are commonplace in the oil and gas industry, professionals in this field should always be ready with a plan of action.  Luckily, in the case of A&D’s, professionals are usually given several months of notice before a company divests the asset  at which they work and they will know shortly afterwards whether or not they will get an offer from the acquiring company.

Unfortunately, many people don’t start looking for a job until after transitioning out of their role.  And in the case of Exploration & Production (E&P) oil companies losing a project, or other downsizing scenarios, professionals may even have less time to ready for a change in employment.  This causes laid off and retired employees to enter the job searching market at once including those who do not accept an offer from the acquiring company as well as professionals from the acquiring company who quit.  Competition for jobs will be fierce and offered pay may be lower.  Our first tip is to begin looking for a job as soon as you know you’ll need one.

Our second tip is to check location.  Location can be a deal breaker for professionals who are offered a position at the acquiring company.  If you get an offer from the acquiring company, find out if they require relocation.  Do some research into the area and decide early whether or not you are willing to move and find affordable housing.

Thirdly, professionals with a lot of experience should consider taking the exit offer and reentering the workforce as a highly compensated, knowledge-based consultant.  Taking a retirement offer doesn’t necessarily mean the end of your career.

Lastly, it’s important to continuously network with industry professionals and get to know about projects in your area. This way you will be able to forge meaningful relationships with contacts that can get you in front of hiring managers.  Information gained from networking can lead to an easier job transition during a company downsizing or similar situations.

Preparation makes for an easier transition.

Workforce changes are inevitable in the oil and gas industry, and most professionals who work on oil production will switch companies at least once during their career.  Preparing for this transition can make finding a new job easier and might even result in a higher paycheck.  You can prepare for any possible layoff by learning about companies involved in deals affecting you and by networking with industry professionals, who may be willing to help you quickly transition to a new project.

Good luck and good hunting.

Chris Sutton is a Partner at Clover Global Solutions, LP.  He can be contacted at: