Vickey Leech saw the need.
When drilling rigs were laid down across the state, the price of oil fell to historic lows and decreased demand for oil and natural gas driven by a global pandemic stalled Oklahoma’s flagship industry, Leech watched as friends and co-workers found themselves without employment.
So, Leech launched an effort to help.
Using her own social media platform, Leech began sharing resumes of industry friends and acquaintances who were now on the hunt for employment. As the year went on, the holidays moved closer and the number of people in need of employment grew, Leech knew more needed to be done.
Enter the Oilfield Angels.
Proposed by Leech and created and supported by a coalition of industry organizations, including The Petroleum Alliance, the Oilfield Angels launched a grassroots effort to assist Oklahoma oilfield families in need. Money raised by the organization this year will ensure Christmas joy is still found for six Oklahoma families who were nominated by word of mouth to the new organization’s founders.
“The holidays are not a time for depression,” Leech said. “I wanted to spread some cheer. Spread a little hope.”
The creation of the Oilfield Angels, patterned after a similar organization in Texas, comes at a time when the industry needs it most. In the past year, employment has fallen by 30 percent in Oklahoma’s oil and gas industry, with production employment and support employment losing more than 20,000 jobs since October of 2019.
Compounding the industry’s increase in unemployment is a global pandemic that has impacted nearly all other industries as well, limiting opportunities outside of oil and gas.
“So many have been dealt a hard hand,” said Charley Mathis, SPE Mid-Continent member. “It’s not just our industry, it’s every industry. COVID has changed everything. Usually when this industry goes south, you can jump out get into another one. That’s not the case right now.”
Initial supporters and contributors to the Oilfield Angels include Oilfield Christian Fellowship (OCF), International Association of Drilling Contractors (IADC), American Association of Drilling Engineers (AADE), Plaster & Wald Consulting, The Petroleum Alliance of Oklahoma, Power Rig and SPE Mid-Continent.
“Our industry is, no doubt, a group of dedicated, hard-working individuals who are willing to work together,” said Max Holloway, chairman of the Oilfield Christian Fellowship. “When there’s a common cause – whether it’s a safety issue in the field or someone in need – they come together to find a solution.”
Plaster & Wald’s Geree Wald Morton, a Petroleum Alliance board member, said the 2020 efforts of the Oilfield Angels is the first step in what the group hopes will become a long-term avenue for assistance.
“When we started, we didn’t know how many people we could help or how we could help them,” Wald said. “We’re learning as we go.”
If you or your company would like to assist with a donation to the Oilfield Angels, please contact Wald via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“The last few months have been a huge struggle for our family because of the industry and now it’s Christmas time,” said one of the recipients of the Oilfield Angels’ contributions. “Christmas has always been an exciting time for our children, but this year is different. My husband saw the information about Oilfield Angels on Vickey’s LinkedIn page while he was searching for jobs. We aren’t ones to ask for help, but the stress and anxiety this year is overwhelming. This program was amazing to see! A giant burden has been lifted from our shoulders. We are grateful more than words can say!”