Oil Industry Could Generate Over 1 Million Jobs by 2030, Report Says

By Lucas Zellers | September 12, 2011 | 1:14 PM EDT

Off-shore oil rig. (AP photo)

(CNSNews.com) - The petroleum industry could generate 1 million jobs by 2018, and more than 1.4 million by 2030, if key U.S. regions are opened to development and regulatory burdens are lifted on current projects, according to a report issued by the American Petroleum Institute (API).

The report, released last Wednesday, also projects oil production growth by 10.4 million barrels a day and an increase of $803 billion in government revenue by 2030. The report was prepared by the Scotland-based Wood Mackenzie Research and Consulting.

These projections are based on the U.S. adopting “policies which encourage the development of new and existing resources," states the report.

That means reduced government regulation, including opening many areas in Alaska, the Rocky Mountains, and the Atlantic and Pacific coasts that are currently “off-limits” to drilling; increasing the rate at which permits are issued for drilling in the Gulf of Mexico; and developing shale oil in New York State without burdensome environmental regulations.

Specifically, the policy changes include: opening non-park federal onshore and offshore areas to development where now prohibited; returning oil drilling permits in the Gulf of Mexico back to pre-spill levels; approving the Keystone XL and other pipelines; and establishing a regulatory environment that permits full development of the nation's oil and gas resources, including those locked in shale formations.

“The creation of these jobs is within the president's control,” API President and CEO Jack Gerard said. “The policy changes involve actions he can take unilaterally. They do not require a super committee of Congress and they do not require new legislation.”

However, Kate Fried of the liberal Center for American Progress said the plan is “problematic.”

The base or comparison case presented by the report is “much more of a dire picture than what’s actually happening in the energy field,” Fried told CNSNews.com.

She said further said the report is a “jobs plan that depends on opening nearly every inch of the land and ocean to drilling or natural gas exploration,” without taking into account the negative impacts of such expansion on the fishing industry, wildlife conservation and offshore wind development, which, she said, “is a big job creator and much less detrimental to the environment.”

The API report, meanwhile, states that U.S. oil and natural gas consumption would not necessarily increase as a result of proposed changes, according to API.  The changes would allow America to produce at home a much larger percentage of the oil and natural gas it consumes, reducing imports.

“If the full potential of domestic oil and gas production could be achieved while also increasing imports of Canadian oil, all of America's liquid fuels could come from secure North American sources within 15 years,” Gerard said.

Currently, more than 9.2 million people work in the oil and natural gas industry, representing 7.7 percent of the U.S. economy, according to API.

Oil and gas companies deliver more than $86 million a day in revenue to the U.S. government, and, since 2000, have invested more than $2 trillion in U.S. capital projects to advance all forms of energy, including alternatives, the oil industry trade group reported.