The world's leading oil field service companies cut back on hiring

2 weeks ago by Jon Marino in Facts, Trends

The biggest oil field services companies in the world are looking at lower job postings for longer. 

The top global oil field services firms reduced open positions from an aggregate peak totaling nearly 11,300 to just over 7,500, representing a fall of one-third of total job postings, according to Thinknum data. 

Our data tracked a number of companies, including most of the 10 largest global oilfield service firms, and generated continuous, uninterrupted data for seven: Halliburton ($NYSE:HAL), Schneider Electric ($NYSE:SNDR), Baker Hughes ($NYSE:BHGE), National Oilwell Varco ($NYSE:NOV), ABB ($NYSE:ABB), Weatherford ($NYSE:WFT) and Rockwell Automation ($NYSE:ROK) (the final one, tracked above). We measured when oil field services job postings hit a high, by number and where they stand today. Currently, several have fallen to 12-month lows. 

There are no shortage of factors contributing to what looks to be the beginning of an oil industry slowdown, particularly in the US. Although, a broader culprit could simply be chalked up as "optimism." Several years ago, when the price of oil was in triple-digit territory, US oil producers were ramping up production and it translated into big business for oil field services firms - in the US, for most companies, the price of extraction doesn't surpass break-even until oil costs between $50 and $60 per barrel.

But, as the next chart shows, the S&P Oil & Gas Equipment & Services Select Industry Index's aggregated share price has downtrended as the price of oil has slumped in recent years. And even as the price of oil has rebounded lately, it is oil field services companies outside of the US who have disproportionately benefited from the rebound. 

After years of trying to out-drill falling oil prices, reality may be setting in - companies in the space began this year with the expectation they would pull back from operations amid concerns of oversupply. 

What it may take to generate a rebound could be much less complex than what led to global oil field services firms deciding to reduce open jobs in the first place - the price of oil has been sustained in early summer amid simmering tensions in the Middle East, which could result in the US engaging Iran. Any short-term scare in the oil market will inevitably drive up price, especially if supply is called into question - and that will make US oil fields' business flourish once more. 

About the Data: 

Thinknum tracks companies using information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales. 

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Jon Marino

Jon Marino is Thinknum's finance editor, covering the impacts of alternative data on public companies and investors. Prior to joining Thinknum, Jon worked in the ...

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