The American Petroleum Institute has trotted out a commissioned study claiming an increase of two million jobs in 2040 off a base of four million (in 2015).
First, these are not people working with development or distribution of natural gas. 44% are “end user” workers, that is, someone someplace who works to “… convert natural gas and its associated liquids to electricity, petrochemical and other products and the industries that manufacture, sell, install and maintain gas-fired appliances and equipment used in the residential, commercial, vehicle and industrial sectors”. (API, “Key Observations and Findings”) The implication is that if natural gas went away, so would these 44% of jobs. That is not correct. The report further defines these as
The largest NAICS codes associated with the end-use segment are Chemical Manufacturing, Gas-fired Electric Power Generation, Power Boiler and Heat Exchanger Manufacturing, Household Appliance Repair and Maintenance, and Industrial Process Furnace and Oven Manufacturing. The end-use segment also includes portions of the jobs related to Industrial Equipment and Machinery Repair and Maintenance, Industrial Construction, Freight Trucks, Turbine and Turbine Generator Set Manufacturing, Iron and Steel Pipe and Tube Manufacturing, and Freight Rail.
While it is not clear what “largest” means here, nevertheless there is no notion of substitution or displacement. The natural gas industry is really responsible for jobs in “Household Appliance Repair and Maintenance” and “Chemical Manufacturing”?
Second, 30% of the claimed jobs are in fact directly associated with natural gas mining, production and distribution. These are fully tied to natural gas.
Third, 25% of the claimed jobs consist “…of oil and gas production companies and their suppliers of goods and services…”, or, to quote their NAICS descriptions,
The largest NAICS Codes primarily associated with the production segment include Support Activities for Oil and Gas Operations, Crude Petroleum and Natural Gas Extraction, Drilling Oil and Gas Wells, and Oil and Gas Field Machinery Manufacturing.
Natural gas can be credited with all of these jobs?
Fourth, the study limited itself to 2015-2016 natural gas growth scenarios, and cherry-picked data from the U.S. EIA Annual Energy Outlook for those years. In particular, here are the case studies the report chose:
Presumably because there is no increase in use of natural gas, there is also no increase in numbers of jobs.
So, I conclude, in a best case scenario, about 600,000 jobs could be added by 2040 for which the natural gas industry is responsible, and perhaps another 200,000, dependending upon how the other categories are counted. There is no allocation that I can see to jobs fixing existing pipeline infrastructure, which don’t increase as production does. The method used to make these projections, as far as I can tell, is using linear fits based upon historical employment numbers.
Incidentally, the API report contains an interesting Appendix B which compares the jobs intensity for construction of natural gas plants, nuclear, coal, onshore wind, and two types of solar, sourcing modules from the U.S. or China. While there are plenty of examples of unfair comparison in that Appendix, including failing to account for additional decrease in price for solar modules between now and 2040, the study produces the result that for new wind, solar, and natural gas construction, the job creation intensity is about the same. For some reason they excluded offshore wind.
Finally, as I’ve noted before, there is nothing natural about natural gas. It is explosive methane. Natural gas ain’t granola.