Friday, March 15, 2013

Where Teenagers are Making $75,000 a Year in the U.S.

Bloomberg reports on the South Texas shale oil boom:
Ranchers joked that it was possible to make a small fortune in raising cattle on the mesquite and cactus range -- if you started with a very large fortune. Population in rural, south Texas grew slowly or not at all during the 2000s as suburbs boomed around Houston, Dallas and Austin.

The shale boom has changed all that here and throughout an oil-rich swath of counties extending to the Canadian border. Figures released yesterday by the U.S. Census Bureau show counties in south and west Texas are now among the fastest- growing places in the U.S. as oilfield workers rush to the Eagle Ford Shale. The underground formation holds an estimated 3 billion barrels of oil and 150 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves.

“It’s a madhouse,” J.E. Wolf III, a Yorktown real estate broker, said in a telephone interview. “I’ve been selling real estate here for 43 years, and I’ve never seen it like this.” 
While half of the 10 fastest-growing U.S. counties between 2011 and 2012 were in North Dakota, where the Bakken shale formation draws people to the sparsely populated Great Plains, Texas is catching up.[...]

 While the shale was a known quantity for a generation of geologists, techniques for extracting oil and gas from it have only become practical in the last decade. The first Eagle Ford well was drilled in 2008.
The formation could provide as many as 900,000 barrels per day by 2016. The Permian Basin, deep in west Texas, may reach 1 million barrels daily, Texas Railroad Commission Chairman Barry Smitherman said in a March 6 interview in Houston.
By 2020, Texas’ crude output may exceed the 3.45 million barrels a day seen in 1972 if prices stay high enough to make drilling economical, he said.
Eagle Ford oil output rose to more than 352,000 barrels a day in 2012, compared with 358 barrels a day in 2008, according to the commission. The number of drilling permits surged to 4,143 in Eagle Ford last year, up from just 26 in 2008, the commission said.[...]

Boomtown anecdotes among locals are as common as one-liners in a stand-up routine: The granddaughter who can’t get married in town because there aren’t available hotel rooms for guests; teenagers who earn $75,000 driving trucks the day they graduate from high school; the Cracker Barrel that couldn’t open until three months after the building was finished because of a lack of workers.

On a recent drive through town on Big Spring Street, there were few fast-food restaurants or local banks without a “Now Hiring” sign. A one-night stay at the Fairfield Inn cost $300.“If you can pass a drug test and get a commercial driver’s license, you can get $80,000 in one phone call,” Gulick said.[...]

Large Texas cities that feed equipment and workers to the fields are prospering, recording the biggest numerical population increases in the nation.

The Dallas metropolitan area added 131,879 people during the last year, more than any other in the nation, raising its total to 6.7 million. The Houston metro area increased its population by 125,185 to 6.2 million. The two Texas cities gained more people than the Seattle, San Francisco, Miami and Phoenix metro areas combined.


  1. Hm. So are those big pay days offset by the local costs of living or is commuting a better route, I wonder.

    I also wonder how long this will last; I'm hearing about it even from big media sources recently.

  2. It's going on here in Oklahoma also. Had some geologists tell me it could last another 10 years and hearing about some new finds that are really large (but the water for fracking is in short supply). It's not the Sweet crude like Saudi Arabia. The cost of living is still a lot Cheaper than in your urban areas but you may have to live in a travel trailer or house with 10 other people.