Texas A&M University-Kingsville

Slick topic at annual Community Breakfast

By Tim Olmeda, Kingsville Record

Local residents and business leaders gathered at Texas A&M University- Kingsville Thursday for the second annual Community Breakfast, which was highlighted by a three-member panel discussion on the impact of the Eagle Ford Shale boom on local and state resources.

The 90-minute event, moderated by Greater Kingsville Economic Development Council Executive Director Dick Messbarger, was held in the ballroom of the Memorial Student Union Building. Attendees listened to individual presentations by Texas Railroad Commissioner David Porter; Tom Best, president of TBGH Investments Ltd.; and Manuel Ugues, corporate business services director at Serco of Texas.

Porter noted just how fast the Eagle Ford Shale boom has grown since the first well was drilled in 2008. The Eagle Ford Shale is located in South Texas and produces oil and natural gas from various depths between 4,000 and 14,000 feet.

Porter said the Eagle Ford Shale, estimated to be about 400 miles long and 50 miles wide, has seen drilling permits issued from the Texas Railroad Commission spike from 94 in 2009 to more than 3,000 in 2011.

Oil production has also increased exponentially during that same time frame, from 300,000 barrels in 2009 to about 30 million in 2011. Current estimates show that the Eagle Ford Shale would be responsible for the creation of 70,000 jobs in 2020, he added.

“It wasn’t on anybody’s horizon four or five years ago, and now it really looks like this has the potential to be the largest oil and gas discovery in the last 40 years,” Porter said.

He said the biggest risk to the growth of the Eagle Ford Shale would likely come from the federal government and any proposed regulations to the process of hydraulic fracturing and other drilling procedures. He said Texas is a vast area that requires flexibility when applying rules and regulations for different parts of the state.

“One size of regulation doesn’t fit all,” he said.

Best said the number of businesses clamoring for a chance to draw oil and gas from the Eagle Ford Shale caused a brief shortage of oilfield equipment, including trucks and vacuum trailers, with some companies having to wait up to nine months to get their equipment.

“I’m happy to say that’s not the case anymore,” he said. “The equipment production has caught up with the demand.”

Best also pointed out that the City of Kingsville is at a disadvantage in regards to taking advantage of the Eagle Ford boom due to a lack of skilled workers and oilfield-related businesses.

“The thing that has not changed in the last year is the labor challenge and labor demands,” he said. “It is still extremely hard to find qualified people. Kingsville is not an oil town. Alice is an oilfield town.”

Best said Alice has oil field-related companies located within its city limits, and has done well in putting itself in a good position to benefit from the development.

“You’ve got everything in Alice. Here, you have a handful of folks,” he said.

Ugues said the number of job postings related to the Eagle Ford Shale has been on the rise since October 2011, with March totals reaching 3,000.

That shows companies are committed to the development currently taking place, he said, as evidenced by the nearly 6,000 jobs available as of March.

Ugues said veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces could be well suited to work in the oilfield due to the number of maintenance and mechanical positions available in the military, and encouraged community leaders to promote those jobs to local veterans.

“We need to learn how we can take those skills that they have and put them to work,” he said.

The TAMUK College of Business, Kleberg Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Kingsville Chamber of Commerce organized the event, while IBC Bank sponsored.

This page was last updated on: November 11, 2013