Drugs, Oil, And The Great Crew Change

Roughly half the workforce in the oil and gas industry is expected to retire within the next ten years. As many companies approach what’s being called “the Great Crew Change,” one of the biggest challenges is finding workers who are drug-free.

The oil and gas industry is one of the few in the U.S. experiencing a labor crunch. Newly minted high school graduates with no job experience can command starting salaries of $50,000, with the prospect of earning six figures in just a few years. All they need is a willingness to work hard and stay clean. And therein lies the problem.

Jim Noe is senior vice president and general counsel of Houston-based drilling firm Hercules Offshore.

“When we started hiring aggressively, about a year and a half ago, we were seeing about a quarter of all of the applicants fail the drug test. And then on top of that, you add another 4% to 5% of the workforce that fails drug tests once they’re hired. So it’s a big problem.”

Applicants are testing positive for drugs ranging from marijuana to methamphetamines to bath salts.