The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Good News Friday: Jobs, Supporting Schools, Plentiful Energy

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted May 27, 2011

Paging through some of the positive ways the oil and natural gas industry is helping the economy as well as individual lives across the country:

A story in the San Antonio Express- News notes that just two years ago Dimmit County in South Texas was ranked as the 19th-poorest county in the United States. Today it's part of a drilling boom in the 400-mile-long Eagle Ford shale formation that's home to thousands of new oil wells and creating thousands of jobs. Last year Eagle Ford generated 6,800 full-time jobs and paid $311 million in salaries in benefits, according to a study. The same report showed another 12,600 spinoff jobs paying $512 million in salaries. By 2020 Eagle Ford is projected to support almost 68,000 full-time jobs, account for almost $21.5 billion in total economic output and add nearly $1.2 billion to Texas' revenues. The paper reports:

Cities near the Eagle Ford shale are benefiting, too, as support jobs are added. San Antonio, as the biggest city near the Eagle Ford shale, is poised to become a mini-hub for energy, as companies open offices to supervise drilling to the south. ... Keith Phillips, senior economist at the San Antonio branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, said while he's still working on his analysis, he believes San Antonio may add 4,200 jobs as a result of the shale development, and that the city's job growth may exceed that of Texas as a whole by half a percentage point. "San Antonio is a pretty big economy," Phillips said, "But 4,200 jobs? That's a nice kick."

Elsewhere in Texas, the Odessa American reports unemployment in the Permian Basin continues to fall as oilfield and service jobs continue to appear. Employment in Odessa's goods-producing sector (which includes oil) increased by 1,300 jobs from April 2010 to April 2011, with service-providing employment rising by 1,400 jobs, the paper said. "We don't want to use the 'boom' word right now, but our market is really great," said Willie Taylor of the Permian Basin Texas Workforce Development Board. He said as long as the oil and gas industry stays strong, the unemployment numbers will keep dropping.

More positive impacts in Montana. The Los Angeles Times reports that a "massive bed of oil-laced rock" under the state's border with North Dakota, the Bakken formation, is turning what was a vast, dusty expanse into a revenue producer, chiefly for area school districts. (So much so, the governor is exploring ways to spread the wealth to other parts of the state, but that's another story.) According to the newspaper:

Baker, a town of 1,700 with 401 students in its three aging schools, has $43.5 million in the bank, more than 13 times its entire annual operating budget. ... In Sidney, where enrollment has nearly doubled over the last several years (15 new students showed up in the last six weeks alone), the schools just put in a new paneled library so big the students call it "Barnes & Noble." Lambert, with just 90 students, has more than $10 million in the bank.

In North Carolina, the Associated Press reports geologists say three counties could produce enough natural gas to power the entire state for 40 years. That's a lot of gas! Cautionary is the fact state law would need to be changed to access the gas - to allow horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing to free the gas from shale formations. The upside? State Rep. Michael Stone tells AP that natural gas production would benefit landowners and energy company workers - and many others, as the first group plows what it earns from natural gas back into the local economy.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Mark also was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela live in Occoquan, Va., where they enjoy their four grandchildren.