U.S. President Trump promised repeatedly while campaigning to “unleash” America’s fossil fuel sector from burdensome regulation. He nominated America’s top oil executive as his secretary of state. So Big Oil was caught wrong-footed this week by immigrant travel restrictions that will strike especially hard at one of the world’s most international work forces.
“Of all the energy sectors, oil and natural gas companies stand to be hit the hardest” by Trump’s immigration orders, Bloomberg reports. As a result, “energy companies led declines in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index [on Monday] as investors weighed Trump’s first week in office.”
“Oil and gas is going to have the most heartburn from this,” said University of Texas in Austin oil market expert Michael Webber. “Other parts of the energy sector, like the electricity sector, are more domestically situated with its work force and its assets.”
New York energy industry talent recruiter George Stein suggested energy companies “may think twice about basing jobs in the U.S.,” finding instead that they can “meet their hiring needs, if a non-U.S. citizen is the best choice, by installing them in London or Singapore or São Paulo or Calgary.”
Webber also warned that the seven Muslim-majority countries Trump targeted (those in the region that lack business relationships with the Trump empire) may refuse work permits to Americans in retaliation. “Supervisors in Houston could be prevented from visiting employees and clients in nations affected by the executive order,” the Texas academic speculated.
And indeed, Bloomberg adds, “Iraq’s parliament has already urged its government to bar U.S. citizens from entering the country. Halliburton and ExxonMobil Corporation are among U.S. energy companies that do business there.”
Bloomberg sought comment on the energy sector implications of Trump’s travel ban from several industry groups. The American Petroleum Institute and the Independent Petroleum Association of America both said their members would respond on a “company-by-company” basis. The Edison Electric Institute and the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers had nothing to say.