Baker: Service, Supply Industries May Find Labor Shortage

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The service and supply industries have enough personnel to properly service an annual average of 1,200 rotary drilling rigs, but if activity rises much beyond that, those industries may find themselves in a labor shortage, according to Alan A. Baker, president of Duncan-based Halliburton Services, a division of Halliburton.

If the average rig count goes above that, "there's going to be a shortage of people, especially in the service and supply industries," Baker said.

"We believe that there is a chance in the foreseeable future that we'll see 1,800 rigs," he said. "And our calculations show that will require another 100,000 people."

Baker said his company believes that "unless we have a hiccup, in the Middle East or somewhere like that, that we might see a 10 percent increase in the business in 1988.

"We're happy with the position today, but it's a very fragile or unstable base on which we work," Baker said.

Just to hold U.S. crude oil production constant would require 2,500 average annual rigs operating, drilling 80,000 to 85,000 wells. To get that many rigs operating, the price of oil would have to be $28 per barrel to $30 per barrel and 220,000 more service and supply employees than there are now, he said.

If not, the amount of crude oil imported will increase further.

"We realize we probably can't hold it constant, because of too many outside factors," Baker said. "The Middle East will increase their output, all sorts of things will happen. We probably can't get there, but that's what we'd have to do to maintain our constant production."

During the drilling boom in the early part of this decade, the oil industry as a whole employed 708,000 people, Baker said. Of that total, 435,000 were in the service and supply industries. …