There’s no doubt greater domestic oil and gas production can create U.S. jobs. A recent Wall Street Journal editorial cited a fact that jobs in oil and gas production have increased by 80 percent since 2003, and the industry accounted for more than one in five of all net new private jobs in that period.
But greater production of oil and gas is only one way the industry creates U.S. jobs.
Take, for instance, the annual maintenance and upgrades of existing oil and gas manufacturing facilities. Called “turnarounds,” these planned periods of downtime for specific units in refineries and petrochemical complexes are often major sources of jobs and investment in local communities.
They require thousands of construction workers and other contractors, in addition to millions of dollars spent on materials, equipment, labor and more.
ExxonMobil’s Baytown, Texas, complex – one of the largest integrated refinery and chemical complexes in the world – recently finished the largest turnaround block in the history of the site. ExxonMobil invested more than $200 million in the turnaround — benefiting local companies, contractors, businesses and more. Here are a few numbers from that turnaround:
- Nearly 50 contract companies were involved in the work.
- The project required more than 2 million man hours of labor.
- Site teams safely and effectively managed a peak of 3,000 additional people on site per day.
- Another large turnaround scheduled for 2012 is expected to require an additional 1,700 workers.
We anticipate that major turnarounds and projects at the Baton Rouge, La., chemical plant and refinery will total more than $340 million from 2011 through 2012. At its peak, the multiple projects will require a workforce of about 4,200 people.
Recent and planned turnarounds at other ExxonMobil refinery sites across the United States have or will require more than $65 million of investment and more than 1,300 contract employees.
This type of economic activity goes largely unnoticed by the public at large, but I can tell you it does not go unnoticed by the citizens in these communities who depend on the jobs that result. Local communities also depend on the millions of dollars in tax revenues from refineries that benefit local schools, hospitals and other public services.
So while the jobs from greater oil and gas production may be making the headlines, it’s important to consider how the industry’s private investments – even in the maintenance of our facilities – are creating jobs and economic activity throughout all sectors of the economy.