Petrochemical Manufacturing is a Bright Spot in Today’s Oil and Gas Sector

There has been much doom and gloom in the news lately about the price decline in crude oil, and an impending oil bust in Texas. Oil prices have plummeted by more than 50 percent since June 2014. Currently, crude oil prices are hovering around $50 a barrel. The price per barrel is forecast to dip as low as $31 by the end of first quarter 2015.

The grim outlook may make you think that the oil and gas sector will suffer, so it may not be wise to work in the industry because there may not be as many jobs. However, this isn’t true. Petrochemical manufacturers actually benefit from reduced oil prices. Outside of the oil and gas sector, even the airline and express delivery industries also stand to benefit from the low oil prices.

To help you understand how petrochemical manufacturers gain from low oil prices, let’s first cover why crude oil prices are falling.

Supply and Demand Issues Contribute to Oil Price Drop

An oversupply of oil is one contributing factor to the oil price decline. Domestic production of oil in the U.S. has surged over the last few years, so oil imports from countries such as Saudi Arabia weren’t needed as much. Those countries that once sold oil to the United States are now competing in the Asian markets. As a result, the oil-producing countries are lowering prices of petroleum.

The drop in oil prices can also be attributed to a lagging demand globally. For instance, in both European and developing countries, the economies are sluggish and consumers are driving more energy-efficient vehicles.

Petrochemical Costs Are Falling

Petroleum and natural gas serve as the raw materials used to extract hydrocarbons such as ethane, propane, and butane, which are then used as feedstocks for petrochemicals. Ultimately, these petrochemicals are used to manufacture the end products. Petrochemicals can be found in so many products that we use every day including cosmetics, furniture, appliances, TVs, radios, items made of plastic, and even medicines.

With the dip in crude oil prices, there has also been a subsequent drop in derivative petrochemical costs. Key petrochemicals in the U.S., such as ethylene, propylene, benzene and methanol are experiencing some of their lowest prices since 2009 when crude oil was about $50 per barrel.

So, the reduced crude oil prices provide petrochemical manufacturers with cheaper feedstocks such as ethane and propane. Steven Craig, a University of Houston economist, sums it up in this KHOU-TV report:

“When petroleum is cheap, petrochemicals do better,” Craig said.

Petrochemical Industry, Manufacturers to Experience Growth

The U.S. petrochemical industry is expected to keep expanding in 2015 amid the upstream oil and gas sector woes. The industry has been investing billions to grow and build new plants to leverage the inexpensive domestic crude oil. Industry experts are optimistic that any surges in oil prices won’t diminish growth around Houston and the Gulf Coast region, according to a Houston Chronicle article that ran in Dec. 2014. The article reports that the industry has planned 215 projects valued at $133 billon. Those projects include building new plants, re-opening shuttered facilities, and expand existing facilities

The future is bright in 2015 for petrochemical manufacturers. So, don’t put your career in the petrochemical industry on hold because of dropping oil prices. There are still many career opportunities for you to explore at petrochemical manufacturing companies. The Texas Gulf Coast Consortium of Community Colleges (TGCCC) has knowledgeable instructors who can teach you the skills needed for high-paying, petrochemical-related jobs. Learn more about TGCCCC’s Community College Petrochemical Initiative and read more about the type of jobs that are available in the industry as well as the courses you need to take.

Jobs, Jobs and More Jobs – The Petrochemical Industry is Booming along the Texas Gulf Coast

It’s difficult to go even a week without hearing about the country’s job situation, but Texas is telling a different story altogether. As the country looks to energy self-sufficiency, the pressure is on in Texas to meet the oncoming demand. But, that is a task with which the state is very familiar. The petrochemical industry in Texas has a long history that begins before the 1950s. During the 1990s, petrochemical facilities in Texas dominated the market – leading the nation in production.

Today, Texas is still the largest chemical producing state, and with production estimates valued at $37 billion this year, it will maintain that position. What makes Texas perfect for petrochemical production? Primarily, access to shale gas deposits and deep water coastal ports, available infrastructure, and the established university system.

Energy companies are poised to fully support the expansion of the petrochemical industry in Texas, and it will transform the region with a two-phase job growth plan. Companies like ExxonMobil have an $8.5 billion capital investment and need more facilities that will call for 43,000 new jobs! The second phase encompasses the management and operations to keep these facilities running at optimal levels. It is estimated that this phase will create 81,000 jobs and will lift Texas’s tax revenue by $779 million.

Petrochemical Industry Growth Phases

So what’s the catch? This: There aren’t enough qualified people to fill the incoming job demands! Companies are scrambling in search of individuals with the right skillsets. That’s why the Texas Gulf Coast Consortium of Community Colleges (TGCCCC) and ExxonMobil are spearheading the Community College Petrochemical Initiative (CCPI) to attract people to take advantage of these new opportunities.

There is a common misconception that you need a four-year degree to work in the energy industry or even a master’s level degree for a management position. Students in a CCPI program can receive their two-year associate degree and start immediately in their career upon graduation. And the best part is: In the investment and operation phase, there will be $7.7 billion in employee wages. For petrochemical manufacturing jobs alone, the average wage is $99,700 which is 46 percent more than the average manufacturing wage in other industries.

Jobs in the petrochemical field are often perceived to be hard, manual labor positions. However, many are in office environments with regular business hours. Below are the careers paths students can take in the CCPI program:

  • Analyzer Technology
  • CADD
  • Computer Maintenance
  • Electrical Technology
  • Engineering Technology
  • Fieldbus Technology
  • Instrumentation
  • Machine Technology
  • Millwrighting
  • Pipefitting
  • Process Technology
  • Production Technology
  • Supply Chain Management
  • Welding

Teachers are also needed to help educate the next wave of petrochemical professionals. Each of our nine partner schools has openings for full or part-time instructors – with or without previous teaching experience. If you are an experienced professional in any of the course areas listed above, please reach out to our schools for job postings and salary information.

The Community College Petrochemical Initiative is an attractive opportunity for people living in the Gulf Coast region, people who want to start a new career with better future prospects and higher wages, and for veterans returning from active duty. Representatives of TGCCCC and its partner schools will host various recruitment sessions about CCPI throughout the year. To contact a school directly about their specific program offerings, visit our member college directory.

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