Throughout his candidacy for president, Donald Trump has spoken emphatically on returning high paying jobs to the oil and gas industry and eliminating the United States’s dependence on oil imports from hostile nations. With hundreds of thousands of oil and gas job losses since the fall of 2014, laid-off oil and gas workers are anxious for a job recovery in the oil and gas industry. This is especially true in the hard hit offshore exploration and production (E&P) sector. Highly skilled oil workers laid-off in the downturn wonder what a Trump Administration means for their job prospects.
In his “America First Energy Plan“, Trump promises to revitalize America’s energy industry and create millions of new, high paying, oil and gas jobs and unleashing an energy evolution.
Chief among his energy action plan is Trump’s vision of opening more leasing of onshore and offshore federal lands for energy production while protecting clean air and clean water. This alone has the potential to create thousands of new jobs as oil companies rush to explore virgin oilfields off the East Coast and Arctic during what they feel may be a brief Trump Presidency. The question remains whether oil companies will invest the billions of dollars necessary to develop these fields with prospects of $40-50 bbl lingering for the next few years. On one hand they might not get the opportunity again to explore in these areas, on the other, they may never recover their investment even if they are grandfathered to continue production after a future presidential administration reenacts a ban.
While he supports easing restriction on coal mining, Trump seeks to encourage the use of more natural gas as cleaner burning (and abundant) source of energy that is in wide supply within the United States which is bad news for coal miners in West Virginia despite what his campaign promised. Trump has been critical of the US’s infrastructure and promises to dramatically improve roads, bridges, hospitals, etc in his various victory speeches. Though he hasn’t directly said it, I suspect he will seek funding to expand natural gas pipeline capacity throughout the country as well; this would be especially helpful in the Northeast where natural gas pipeline capacity issues have severely affected prices in New England states.
Finally, Trump plans to rescind all of President Obama’s executive orders that hinder the “responsible development” of oil and gas projects within the US which he claims will help create a half million new jobs per year and create $30 billion dollars in higher wages all while reducing the cost of energy for consumers.
It’s unclear, exactly, how President Trump will be able to ween the United States off of foreign oil with OPEC nations (and others) flooding the market with cheap oil that may be too hard to resist. It is unlikely that there will be any new trade embargoes or tariffs, but you can never be too sure with Trump. He’s already reneged or softened on several campaign promises after his stunning victory over Hillary Clinton in early November.
What we do know is there is plenty of oil and natural gas reserves within the United States that are just waiting for the price of oil to rise. The question is whether or not the price of oil can be sustained to make producing these reserves viable, or whether we as a nation are more content purchasing cheap oil from rogue nations that don’t have our best interests at heart.