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After Plunge in Oil Prices, Hope Fades for Group of Long-Beleaguered Workers

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An oil technician in an oil field southwest of Tehran. (AP Photo)

(AP Photo)

 Other men bought big houses or new pickups with their oil money. Mike Gillham bought his favorite bar. He heads there most nights, to lug in more beer, to throw darts with his regulars, to smoke Camels and sit with his wife and wonder how to keep getting by, now that his oil job is gone.

Four years ago, Gillham stumbled upon what is more or less an economic lottery ticket for an American man whose education stopped after high school. It paid more than any other gig he’d had — more than all three of the jobs, combined, that he’d been working simultaneously before a buddy called and invited him into the well-paid world of the oil and gas industry.

The crash in global oil prices late last year, with oil prices plunging from nearly $110 to about $45 for a barrel of West Texas crude, burned that lottery ticket. Gillham and thousands of men like him lost their jobs.

“It was like somebody knocked the wind out of you, a little bit,” Gillham said.

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