Money & The Economy

Biden Effect: Oil Companies Fear Vaccine Mandate Will Further Disrupt Business and the Economy

Fracking executives expressed concern that President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate will set the industry back, making hiring even tougher, The Wall Street Journal reported.

“It places all of us in leadership positions in tremendously complex situations,” Nine Energy Service CEO Ann Fox told the WSJ.

Fox added the oil-field service firm, which already experiences high turnover among employees, will face a dire situation when the mandate is issued, according to the WSJ. Roughly 15% of Nine Energy Service’s 818 workers are vaccinated, Fox said.

On Sept. 9, Biden announced that he would order the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to issue a rule requiring businesses to mandate vaccinations for their entire workforce. The mandate has been met with both support and fierce opposition.

While the president’s order would allow workers to choose weekly COVID-19 tests rather than vaccination, Fox said oil industry leaders have worried about how to enforce that requirement, the WSJ reported. A company risks a large fine from the federal government if it doesn’t ensure workers, who in the oil industry could be located at a far-off remote field site, are following the mandate.

“It’s going to be an obstacle either way,” Abel Ortega, an operations manager at GM Oilfield & Trucking Services, told the WSJ.

Ortega said truck drivers key to transporting water, sand and supplies for fracking crews across Texas and New Mexico would quit because of the mandate, according to the WSJ. Others in the industry said companies would be forced to raise wages to attract workers, causing increased costs for consumers.

“It’s going to drive the price of drilling these wells way back up again, just like the grocery store seeing sticker shock,” Latigo Petroleum President Kirk Edwards told the WSJ.

Wages are already among fracking companies’ largest costs and have risen in recent months, the WSJ reported.

“It’s our constitutional right not to put something in our body if we don’t want to,” Texas-based Byrd Oilfield Services operations manager Clint Concord told the WSJ. “They haven’t proven to me this is 100% stable.”

Justin Clark, a field service manager with Smith Laydown & Casing Services, said most of his fellow workers are unvaccinated, according to the WSJ.

“I don’t like to be forced to do anything,” Clark told the WSJ. “I almost want to just do the opposite when someone tells me, in that manner, you’ve got to do this.”

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