South Texas towns seeing boom in oil industry

November 29, 2011 12:20:09 PM PST
No matter where he is, it seems in every stump speech, Gov. Rick Perry always stresses the abundance of jobs in our state. No where in Texas is that more evident than along the Eagle Ford Shale in southwest Texas, where the jobs are flowing because of what lies beneath the earth.

Kathy and Joe Moore's home in the town of George West, Texas might not seem unusual at first -- pictures on the walls, a welcome sign at the front door. They've lived there for 18 months.

"We checked in in April 2010 and we haven't checked out," Joe Moore said.

That's right -- their home is a hotel room at the Best Western and they love it.

"We've just made ourselves part of this wonderful town," Kathy Moore said.

The Moores moved here to the tiny town of George West because of the oil and gas boom. And they're not alone. So many have gone there because it's easier to find a job than a place to live.

"In this town, if you want to work, you can work," said Brenda Gloria with Ameritech.

Gloria moved to South Texas with her husband. He works on an oil rig. She manages a roadside temporary housing camp built just for roughnecks.

"There's four men in most of these trailers," Gloria said.

She says every where you go, you find other transplants who came to this string of small South Texas towns for the work.

"I came down here just like everybody else with the oil field," Gloria said.

That oil field is called the Eagle Ford Shale. It stretches throughout most of southern Texas, producing both natural gas and oil. And it's not like this is some short-term boom; some analysts suggest that Eagle Ford could be producing energy and providing jobs for decades.

"The potential supply numbers are really spectacular," said Bob Tippee.

Tippee is the editor of the Oil and Gas Journal. He says the Eagle Ford Shale is exploiting a newer kind of technology that allows for exploration that wasn't possible to this degree in years past.

"You have to manufacture permability in the rock that nature didn't provide," Tippee said.

Here's a simplified version of how it works: After the drill is lowered into the shale vertically, the well-bore is turned and the drilling begins horizontally. Then a mixture of water, sand and chemcials is blasted at high pressure into the rock, creating small cracks, so that gas or oil can flow through the cracks and into the well.

It means a new source of domestic production and jobs.

Matthew Matheson moved there and found two of them -- one on a rig and one doing welding work for the construction companies benefitting from the play.

"Is it hard to find work?" we asked him.

"No not at all," he said.

Drive the highways and you'll see the hiring signs nearly everywhere, lots of jobs, lots of energy. And a lot more time in a temporary home for thousands of people like Joe and Kathy Moore.

"You're not gonna see a bust here for quite some time," Joe Moore said.

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