A pair of new reports issued on Monday portray a domestic oil and gas industry entering into a new consolidation cycle even as it is shedding tens of thousands of jobs that won’t be coming back anytime soon. It’s a scenario the industry has repeated often in the past.

Deloitte’s new report, titled “The future of work in oil, gas and chemicals,” posits that the great preponderance of the 107,000 industry jobs lost this year (per U.S. Department of Labor statistics) will not be staging any sort of a comeback before the end of 2021. In the most likely, “business as usual” scenario used in its statistical analysis, Deloitte projects that only about 30% of those jobs would be restored during that time frame.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that, should oil prices remain depressed and drop back down below $35 per barrel, the firm’s experts project that 97% of those lost jobs would remain lost.

Deloitte notes that the industry is plagued during this downturn not only by depressed commodity prices, but also due to the rapid up and down cycling in the shale industry, which is now going through its second downturn in just the last six years. This rapid cycling has created a high degree of sensitivity to oil price levels in oil and gas industry hiring practices, leading to the most rapid layoffs in recent history this year in the upstream and oilfield services sectors. “Such large-scale layoffs, coupled with the heightening cyclicality in employment, are challenging the industry’s reputation as

Adds details on consolidation, comments on Mali, Grasberg mine, and Congo

JOHANNESBURG/TORONTO, Oct 7 (Reuters)Barrick Gold ABX.TO CEO Mark Bristow on Wednesday said the gold industry in Africa should consolidate further, as he warned of a “serious reserve crisis” looming for the sector.

A dearth of exploration has seen average mine life across the gold mining sector fall from 20 years to closer to 10 years, he added, speaking at the Joburg Indaba mining conference.

“The prospect of a serious reserve crisis is looming,” said Bristow. Gold production across the industry has only increased by 1.6% every year for the past two decades, he said.

Bristow said this week’s deal between Northern Star Resources NST.AX and Saracen Mineral Holdings SAR.AX was a “great example” of industry consolidation that should be celebrated.

On Mali, where Barrick is among the biggest investors and operates the Loulo-Gounkoto gold mine, Bristow said the transition after an August military coup has been “very well” run.

“Everyone agrees that 18 months for transition back to full civilian rule is doable, and that’s ambitious,” Bristow said, adding that “none of the organs of state has stopped functioning.”

Bristow again signalled his appetite for acquiring Freeport-McMoran’s FCX.N Grasberg mine in Indonesia, the world’s biggest gold mine and second-biggest copper mine.

“There are not a lot around, and so by deduction of course we remain interested in being able to add to our portfolio any tier 1 asset out there,” he said.

Bristow said he has no doubt the company will be able to repatriate $500 million which belongs to its Kibali joint venture in the Congo.

“That paperwork is far down the road,” he said. At the start of July, Bristow had said the money would be cleared to leave the country “very soon”.