Oil patch desperation


The drop in the price of a barrel of oil is making some in the oil and gas industry a little lightheaded. I just came back from vacation — staycation in this case — and over the past two weeks, I received several calls from friends in the industry asking me what I’ve heard about the price of oil going forward.

I told them what I have heard, and I gave them links to some of the stories and columns we’ve published in WorkBoat recently as well as a few places to find what else analysts are saying. All five of these people listened to what I said then asked the question that alerted me to the depths of desperation they must be feeling. “Well, what do you think?” they asked.

“Me? I’m just a reporter. I wish I could say something that would make you feel better, but I’m just not qualified.”

All five of these professionals are sales and marketing specialists. The fact that they’ve gotten to the point where they are asking me what I think is not a good sign. Let’s just say they are out of the office, on the road and beating the bushes.

The good news, however, is they’re signing some contracts. It’s not for the money they are use to seeing, but there is business out there if you do the hustle.

While we’re on the subject, I will say this. The current down cycle is at least the fourth I’ve witnessed since being at WorkBoat. This time is different than the others in that I’ve never seen industry experts so all over the road as we’re seeing this time around. One says oil prices will head north by the end of the year, while another says it will be five years before we see prices anywhere near those of 15 months ago.

What’s so frustrating for the shipyard owner whose drydock is sitting empty is that it’s more than just a supply and demand problem. There are other factors at work when it comes to world oil prices. Political upheaval, war, weather, refinery outages, pipeline interruptions, stock market ups and downs can all have an effect. It’s all out of his control. That much I do know.

Hang in there. 

About the author

Ken Hocke

Ken Hocke has been the senior editor of WorkBoat since 1999. He was the associate editor of WorkBoat from 1997 to 1999. Prior to that, he was the editor of the Daily Shipping Guide, a transportation daily in New Orleans. He has written for other publications including The Times-Picayune. He graduated from Louisiana State University with an arts and sciences degree, with a concentration in English, in 1978.

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