Double-Down: Using the Energy Downturn to One’s Advantage

We’re over a year into a WTI price crash; hundreds of thousands of positions have been eliminated, rigs have been stacked, and M&A activity has not yet ramped up as typically happens after a price shock (though it should later this year). Many people have left the industry: most involuntarily, but some voluntarily. To be totally candid, I am one of probably many who are really frustrated with the lack of movement in their careers thus far. I happened to join the industry in early 2014, which was not great timing in retrospect, obviously. I came in with no experience – more than two years later, I know now more than ever that I have the skills, abilities and aptitude to succeed in the industry. The only question is trusting the process and believing in the rebound to come.

As I have told many with whom I talk about the energy industry, I truly believe that slow periods are opportunities to bolster one’s repertoire in preparation for the next market upswing. Throughout this downturn, I’ve:

  • Increased immensely my presence on professional social media and at conferences and networking events, as well as becoming more involved with the PBLA and the Institute for Energy Law
  • Acquired more than forty hours of oil, gas, and energy law continuing legal education
  • Written a twenty-five page legal article about the New York fracking ban, a piece to be published about impending reserve-base credit determinations for major energy companies, and a profile piece for Shale Magazine about the Port of Victoria’s role in the Eagle Ford’s rise
  • Maintained a blog (augmented by my posts on LinkedIn) discussing energy and legal issues
  • Written mock title opinions (in lieu of having yet had the opportunity to prepare one for a client due to this current downturn)

This is not meant to be self-aggrandizing; the idea here is to demonstrate that I am doubling-down on the energy industry at a time that others may be questioning their future in it. Although I am personally frustrated with still abstracting title and preparing ownership reports at this point in my career, I realize that title is the backbone to oil and gas law and that honing those skills will serve as an important foundation in my skill set going forward. At the end of the day, my will to demonstrate my work ethic, skills and acumen exceeds my current career-related frustration. I want to continue to be challenged intellectually, grow professionally, and continue meeting and working with the great, hard-working people in our industry.

I encourage anyone reading this who may be questioning their decision to remain in oil and gas to look inside his- or herself for the answer to whether they want to stay; if the answer is a resounding “yes,” then keep chipping away, get to networking events, and work hard to get to where you want to be. The cream will rise to the top once we emerge from these doldrums in which we find ourselves, and the work done during these darker times will reap reward in the times to come.

“Chop that wood.”

This post is also available at my LinkedIn page.

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