In Houston, where energy is king, low oil prices are double-edged sword

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Houstonian Maxwell Ezeji loves filling up his gas tank at the low prices. "It's incredible," he says. "It just makes things a lot easier."

He's excited about what it means for the cost of other goods too. "Groceries, food, all that stuff is also gonna come down," he believes. "It's a good thing and we hope it keeps coming down."

But in Houston, where energy is king, those low prices are a double-edged sword.

"It's not great, but we can live with it," explains Patrick Jankowski, Senior Vice President of Research at the Greater Houston Partnership. "We are going to see job losses in 2015. They're not going to be anywhere near what we saw in the great recession or what we saw in 1986, but we will see job losses this year."

The low prices are good for Gulf Coast area refineries. They benefit from low crude oil prices. And Houston's economy is better diversified than it was decades ago. But the economy locally will slow.

"We'll be looking at other sectors to drive like construction, like healthcare, like trade," predicts Jankowski. "There is still a lot of engineering work that needs to take place. This going to look a lot different than the last few years."

Bob Tippee, with the Oil & Gas Journal, says the price of oil was bound to drop because of a lack of demand compared to the supply. OPEC refusing to budge on production in November 2014 and higher than predicted output from Iraq and Russia compounded the glut. He thinks prices will drop farther.

"There's nothing that says there's a magic floor on the price of oil," he suggests.

That would be just fine with Maxwell Ezeji, who told us he hopes to see gasoline drop even more.

"I can't wait," he says, "to see it when it gets below a dollar."

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