Well, of all the things I might have thought would affect oil prices, here’s one that never occurred to me: apparently a growing number of oil-rig crews are meth users.

Ben Dell, analyst at Sanford Bernstein, said the issue was serious enough to have an impact on international oil prices.

He said: "With a third of all rig crews in the Rocky Mountains having methamphetamine problems, it’s difficult to get a crew that’s not high."

Seems that sodium hydroxide, one of the main ingredients of meth, is used to reduce the acidity of drilling mud, and thus easily available on rigs.

Random drug tests are now the order of the day, people are getting fired right and left, and it’s increasingly hard to find workers. This comes at an awful time for an industry whose workforce is aging: "Most industry groups put the average age of employees at 49, with 50 percent expected to retire in the next five to 10 years."

Tweaking, it turns out, is not really what you want in an oil-rigger:

"Meth is particularly dangerous for oil and gas workers because meth users go through a wide range of emotions including the Superman stage during which they believe themselves to be invincible," Mr Walsmith added. "Believing oneself to be invincible when working with hundreds of tons of steel and thousands of pounds of explosive pressure can maim or kill in an instant."

Crazy.

How about instead of drilling in the Arctic Refuge, we offer drug counseling on oil rigs? Probably have roughly the same effect on oil price.

(via The Watt)