As energy prices climb and work ramps up, the industry is hopeful it is a sign of better times ahead.

As of the time of this writing, WTI was trading just under $62 at $61.91 and Brent Crude at $65.72.

Also today, Canadian crude traded over $50 - a high not seen since April of 2019.

Meanwhile, an article in the Financial Times suggests crude could rise as high as $100/b as the world economy rebounds - a level not reached since 2014.

And as energy prices climb, the oil & gas industry is getting back to work.

In Canada

The Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors (CAODC) says rig activity is already higher than it anticipated for the first quarter of this year.

In the fall of last year, the organization forecast 136 rigs would be active in the first quarter of this 2021.

It now says it sees that number at about 188 for the first two months of the year - and staffing is becoming an issue.

Mark Scholz, president and CEO of the CAODC said in an interview with BNN that "We’re starting to see some backlogs get created" and that "Customers are actually on the third or fourth drilling-contractor call inquiring about rigs to get out in the field and a lot of companies are in the exact same situation.

It’s just a "You’re going to have to wait for that rig just because we don’t have the available crew [situation]." he continued.

The Globe and Mail also warns of a skilled trades shortage.

"By 2029, we will be short about 100,000 tradespeople if we don’t do anything," says Kieran Hawe, chief operating officer of construction services company EllisDon Corp. 

In the US

In the US, an article in the Energy Workforce & Technology Council said that Employment in the U.S. oilfield services (OFS) and equipment sector climbed for the fifth consecutive month in January by an estimated 8,421 jobs.

Additionally, PBS reported back in January that despite rising salaries, the skilled-labor shortage is getting worse.

Judy Woodruff with PBS started the piece by saying that "There's a shortage of skilled tradespeople throughout the U.S. economy, a persistent problem that started well before the pandemic. But, given high unemployment, it is an important time to explore what's behind that gap and what can be done about it." 

The Pandemic

Unsuprisingly, 2020 was one of the toughest on record for oilfield service providers as work all but dried up and layoffs were aplenty thanks to low oil prices and the COVID-19 pandemic.

While many of the larger oilfield service companies have deployed strategies to keep employees working, smaller companies are now struggling to find the labour to ramp back up. 

Recruitment Struggles

Precision Drilling Corp. President and CEO Kevin Neveu said in the same BNN article that "Getting the call-out labour for our service rigs has been tougher because a lot of those workers right now are getting the unemployment insurance subsidies due to the pandemic."

"They’re reluctant to come up and work for four or five days and then four or five days off. So recruiting has been a bit more challenged for those call-out businesses." he continued.