Oil jobs rebound as U.S. drilling fleet grows for 5 straight months

An oil drilling rig in the Bakken formation in North Dakota. (Matthew Staver/Bloomberg)

American oil producers put up another eight drilling rigs this week in fields stretching across West Texas, Colorado and North Dakota, bringing workers back into the oil patch after a job-killing oil bust.

By conservative estimates, the surge in U.S. drilling has brought back more than 15,000 jobs back to oil patches across the nation — and that’s just the rig crews. The collapse of oil prices had cost Texas one in three oil field workers between late-2014 and 2016.

“Every rig you’re bringing back, you’re probably putting 30 people back to work,” said John Graves, an energy consultant at Graves & Co. in Houston. “Each rig has an economic impact much bigger than its own crew.”

Related: Big rigs are helping oil companies pump more for less

Some estimates suggest 60 jobs could be associated with one active drilling rig — from the rig hands and roustabouts to truckers who haul pipe and sand to the oil field to mud logging workers and cleaning crews.

On Friday, Baker Hughes said drillers sent 11 oil rigs back into the field, while disassembling three natural gas rigs. That net increase of eight rigs brought the U.S. rig count to 916, up from an all-time low of 404 in May 2016. It’s the rig count’s 20th consecutive weekly increase.

Related: U.S. oil production isn’t coming on as strong as Energy Department predicted, monthly data shows

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