West Texas Prospers, Struggles Under New Oil Boom
Midland, in Western Texas is a small town known for its periodic oil-drilling booms. It’s in the midst of one right now, but not everyone is celebrating.
Drilling rigs cast their shadows on suburban backyards. Meanwhile, there is a major housing crunch in this small town on the Permian Basin. Workers drawn to the area’s high-paying oil-rig jobs can’t find houses or apartments to live in. This has driven rent up by 30 percent over the past year. Because of this, normally tax-averse city officials have raised fees to keep basic services going.
West Texas: Where Oil Drilling Is Constantly Expanding
It’s not happening just in Midland. Most of West Texas — an area about the size of Georgia — is in the same situation, as drilling and hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, spread to parts of the Permian Basin previously untouched by oil concerns. As communities welcome new jobs and revenue, they are also struggling with more traffic accidents and homelessness.
Recent reports from companies in the oil and gas industry are in line with the major development of fracking technology over the past decade. In December last year, many companies located in the Permian Basin doubled up their oil production, producing twice as much as they had four years ago. New forecasts predict this number is to double again by 2023.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott says the drilling spree is ushering forth a new era of American energy independence. However, it is foreign demand that is driving the recent oil boom.
U.S. Becomes World’s Top Oil Producer
Back in 2015, the Congress lifted 40-year old restrictions on the export of crude oil. This is what experts refer to as “the first step” towards opening the floodgates. It marked the first time the U.S. sold 230 million more barrels of crude oil to other countries in the world in only the first half of the year. Compared to statistics from 2012, this surge that followed a virtually identical spike in Permian production.
As of recently, the United States became the world’s top oil producer. What many don’t know is that most of the oil comes out of the Permian Basin, and it will account for 80 percent of the growth in global supply over the next seven years.