Oil companies are shifting their focus for the future from politically fractured places, to places where the oil comes out of the rock, only when it is fractured.
In many cases, that is the good old USA. This shift is not a drop in the oil bucket, it is more like a revolution in the oil industry. Why? Because it is probable the USA will be the world’s biggest gas and oil producing nation by 2020, if PFC Energy, a Washington DC based Consulting firm, is right. That means a lot more pipe welders will be working in America, starting now.
Political risk in other countries is part of this new oil picture, and political and economic winds in the USA could cause more than a boom, soon.
Shell Oil for example, says it would rather face the technical and environmental challenges of complicated new drilling methods like shale fracturing, and super deep water drilling in the USA and other politically safe countries, rather than take the risks of operating in less-than-stable or unfriendly countries, where it is relatively easy to get the oil and natural gas out of the ground.
At the same time, public and political attitudes about oil and natural gas production in the USA could be shifting toward more aggressive development of U.S. resources because Americans are growing tired of yo-yo gas prices, and a less-than-robust economy. Producing oil and natural gas from home based reserves can help both. Canada has enjoyed a less stressed economy while the USA struggles. This is largely because Canada is producing oil from new technology which allows it to get oil from tar sands in Alberta.
A huge pipeline has been approved by the EPA, from Canada’s tar sands to the Texas refineries. Although it may be delayed for political reasons, it most likely will begin soon, and it will employ thousands of pipe welders.
It is no secret that skills which are difficult to learn, and are in high demand, command more money, regardless of the industry that is being discussed.
Welding is not an exception to this rule. However, the more common welding skills do not pay anywhere near what pipe welders can make. They can make $100,000 a year or more in places like North Dakota, where general unemployment is below 4%, because of shale oil production.
6G is the designation given to a pipe welding position in which the test joint is fixed at a 45 degree angle, and the welder must weld the joint without moving the pipe. The test is this way because the fixed angle causes the welder to have to weld in just about all possible positions. When a welder can complete the welding test so that the weld will pass a destructive bend test conducted by certified welding inspector (CWI), the welder can weld pipe.
Although the average welder does not have the required skill for pipe welding, almost any person driven enough to obtain the 6G skill can do it, either through attending pipe welding school, or by teaching themselves, with enough of the right kind of practice.
Catch 22? You can’t weld pipe unless you have experience, and you can’t get experience without welding pipe.
How do you get it done? The newly certified 6G welder will be required to help and observe an experienced pipe welder for weeks or months before being given a chance to weld pipe as a pipe welder. During this time, the new 6G welder will be allowed to weld occasionally, while being observed by the experienced pipe welder.
What should you do next?