Disadvantages of Oil Careers
As in any industry, careers in the oil industry also have certain disadvantages. Oil and natural gas is a highly regulated industry, from drilling to transportation to the sale at the gas station. Although regulation may create new jobs, it also increases the cost of doing business. In addition to ensuring that all employee training meets current regulations, oil and gas company owners must consider how regulatory changes affect drilling, pipeline transportation, and other aspects of the business. For example, gas station owners nationwide are currently dealing with the laws that requires them to replace existing underground storage tanks with new double-walled tanks. This is a very expensive project that will not boost their income. The purpose of this specific law, which is to protect the environment from leaks, is noteworthy, but the end result might mean that smaller owners who cannot afford new tanks will go out of business, thus reducing competition and driving up gas prices.
Another disadvantage to working in oil and natural gas is potential health problems. Frequent exposure to the chemicals at refineries and in drilling operations can impact workers’ long-term health, especially if the effects remain undetected for years. Both onshore and offshore drilling may be dangerous. When a well like the Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico explodes, it kills many of those on the platform. Workers at pipeline compressor stations must complete extensive safety training since the heavy equipment can be dangerous. To offset these dangers, oil and gas companies train their employees in safety protocols and site-specific features.
In addition, some jobs in the oil industry can be stressful, especially in shift work, because drilling projects can run 24 hours a day. Offshore drillers must remain on the platform for weeks or months at a time, away from family, and then only have a few days off. Since drilling operations are so expensive (a deepwater rig rental may cost $500,000 per day), the workers are pressured to finish a project as soon as possible. Pipeline operators also face the stress of safely managing the pipeline. Many large pipelines run beneath cities, so if that pipeline leaks or explodes, lives are at risk. Because of these risks, pipeline operators must work hard to raise safety awareness and to prevent accidents.
Oil industry professions remain in constant flux, which some people consider a disadvantage. For people who prefer to master one job and stay in it for years, this might be a problem. Changes often come about because of new technologies, regulation, world events, world markets, the U.S. economy, and company mergers; thus, anyone interested in a career in the oil industry should be prepared for change.