weather_oilfields

The Kern River field is a mass of pipes and wires.

Felix Adamo / The Californian

HIT – There are clear signs of recovery happening in Kern’s oil patch. Surging petroleum prices have reinvigorated local oilfield activity, with the prospect that companies will soon begin replacing many of the jobs lost during the downturn of 2014.

A 20 percent climb in barrel prices since December has prompted independent and major producers to bring in temporary help to revive wells. However, growth in regular, full-time employment has so far been constrained by price uncertainty, organizational changes and regulatory headaches.

“The bottom line is, if guys out there can make a few bucks on a barrel of oil, believe me, (oilfield hiring) will come back,” industry veteran Les Clark told The Californian. An oil industry uptick also will boost property values and generate increased tax income used to fund local government services.

Kern’s oil industry was hit hard in 2015 and 2016, when a global supply glut cost more than 3,000 good-paying jobs. Easily a quarter of employment in local oilfields was cut, based on state unemployment estimates and company layoff announcements.

HIT & MISS – Bakersfield’s Rabobank Arena will soon be installing 15 walk-through metal detectors at the facility. Anschutz Entertainment Group, which operates the facility, requested the installation; however, Bakersfield Finance Director Nelson Smith said the request wasn’t due to any security concerns at the Rabobank Arena, Theater and Convention Center, but rather because all of the other AEG venues have them and the company wanted to have uniformity.

“It’s a best-practices thing,” Smith said. “I think they’re just trying to be cautious.”

The security upgrade should give events participants added confidence. But the increasing need for these measures is a disturbing commentary on the times in which we live.

AEG also requested additional cameras be placed in the facility. The new cameras will be funded as part of city’s $90,000 set aside for security enhancements.

HIT — Bakersfield College made history this month by graduating its largest class ever. Around 1,000 Bakersfield College students walked across the field at Memorial Stadium to receive their diplomas. The number was nearly double the 612 students who participated last year and significantly more than the 13 students who graduated in the college’s first commencement in 1913. Another 1,000 students were eligible to participate in the ceremony.

MISS — Highway 99 has been named the most dangerous roadway in the United States based on data ValuePenguin culled from the National Traffic and Highway Safety Administration database of fatal crashes. ValuePenguin is a private consumer research organization based in New York.

The 400-mile highway that runs through the centers of Bakersfield, Fresno, Modesto, Stockton, Sacramento and other valley cities recorded 62 fatal accidents per 100 miles over a recent five-year span. Highway 99 had 264 fatal accidents between 2011 and 2015. Fifty of those involved drunken driving. The database recorded the most fatalities, 35, in the Modesto area.

Does this say something about the condition or configuration of the highway, the type of vehicles or motorists that use it, or some combination?