DRILLING MIDLAND - You don’t have to look very far to see how rough the past couple years have been for the Acadiana oil and gas industry. A years-long downturn in deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico has led to massive layoffs. Some estimates put that number at roughly 20,000 lost jobs since 2014. Some companies have stayed while others have shuttered their local headquarters. Many of these offices lined Highway 90 between Lafayette in New Iberia and sit vacant today.

The good news for the oil and gas industry as a whole is that land-based drilling is booming. Refining cities like Baton Rouge and Lake Charles are very active. But economies that have long depended on deepwater drilling are still faltering. Areas from Lafayette south to Morgan City and Houma are still trying to find their place in the new ‘normal’.

Lower oil prices mean that companies have had to figure out how to make a profit to stay afloat. Enter the Permian Basin.

Kathy Shannon runs the Petroleum Museum in Midland and has seen the booms and busts her entire life. The simple fact is, it doesn’t matter what industry you’re in. If you’re in Midland, you are in the oil industry. A curator at the museum told us simply, “If you’re a dry cleaner, you’re in the oil business.”

 

 

A vast area that covers much of West Texas and New Mexico is quickly becoming the world’s hot spot for drilling activity. News stories say that companies there can’t recruit fast enough and we saw that with our own eyes. Workers from Acadiana are working 21 on and 7 off schedules- spending just one week home per month.

We went to Midland to find these workers and find out exactly how they were making it some 12 hours away from home. Was it the same? When would they come back? And what is their prediction for the return of the oil and gas industry to its former glory in Acadiana?

Bottom line: the money is there. We found that companies are hiring almost anyone with some level of experience or the aptitude to be trained. One company says they were on track to hire 4,000 new employees in Midland this month. When pressed about whether deepwater drilling will be back anytime soon, the common answer was actually a question: “why?”. One worker described the business as being like grazing cattle. There is no reason to go back to the gulf as long as they are so profitable in the Permian Basin. Experts predict this boom could last for many decades to come.

Watch the full interview with Kathy Shannon below:

Drilling Midland is presented by Ardco Equipment. Travel consideration is provided by Cetera Advisor Chris Quebedeau and A&P Electric Service.