There's no question that the oil and gas industry has rebounded from the depths of the global pandemic, when prices plummeted to as low as $16.94 per barrel in April 2020.
Today, crude prices stand at nearly $100 per barrel, driven in part by Russia's invasion of Ukraine. In response, BP, ExxonMobil, and Chevron, which have enjoyed nice bumps in their stock prices, are back in growth mode and hiring again.
Data from our parent company Thinknum Alternative Data shows job listings at the companies have significantly jumped over the last several months.
From Nov. 20, 2021 to March 12, 2022, BP's job listings have increased nearly six fold to 530 from 79. During this period, the company's stock price has risen to $28.27 from $19.49.
At ExxonMobil, job listings have jumped to 623 from 169, a 267% gain. Exxon stock more than doubled to $85.36 from $36.94.
Chevron's job postings grew 160% to 519 from 194. Meanwhile, its stock price doubled to $170.90 from $85.79.
However, the numbers don't tell the whole story. Over the past decade, oil companies have overdrilled, resulting in a global glut of supply that has depressed prices leading up to the Covid outbreak in 2020.
At the same time, climate change has gotten increasingly worse and governments around the world have vowed to cut carbon emissions and invest in clean energy technologies.
Some analysts think that the pandemic, which shut down large sections of the global economy, permanently changed the industry. A 2020 report by Deloitte predicted many of the jobs shed during the pandemic are not coming back.
For one thing, the shutdowns forced oil companies to rely more on automation and digital technologies to run operations instead of humans.
And although the industry is still spending plenty of money on new exploration projects, companies have scaled back their capital expenditures and focused more on returning cash to shareholders through dividends and stock repurchases.
For example, ExxonMobil said it would limit capex spending to $20 billion to $25 billion each year until 2027, most of it proven lands in the Permian Basin. Chevron announced it would spend $15 billion on capex this year, at the low end of its $15 to $17 billion guidance range.
One thing of interest is not just how many jobs these companies are posting but what kind of positions. All three oil giants have pledged billions of dollars into transitioning away from oil and gas and towards lower carbon technologies like hydrogen, carbon capture and storage, and wind.
BP said that it expects investment in such transition growth businesses to account for over 40% of its capex spending by 2025. The company plans to spend $14 billion to $16 billion on capital investments this year.
In the short term, the three oil companies are chasing the profits that come from $100 a barrel oil, as evidenced with the notable bump in job listings over the past few months.
But over the long term, they are scaling back capital investments and shifting dollars toward low carbon technologies and returning cash to shareholders.