An op-ed by Consumer Energy Alliance President David Holt in the San Angelo Standard-Times details the economic growth in the counties south of Refugio, Texas, as a direct by-product of the new activity from the Eagle Ford Shale.
Refugio County, Texas is a small, close-knit, ranching community.
Local butcher and county commissioner Stanley Tuttle, owner of Tuttle’s Grocery and Market, said most residents of the 10-square-mile southeastern region are either retirees or workers who travel extensive distances to Corpus Christi or Victoria for work.
“If you weren’t involved with farming or ranching or something of that aspect, there just wasn’t a whole lot more things to do around here,” Tuttle recalled.
That’s not the case anymore.
To make a living, residents once relied heavily on farming and motorists stopping for supplies while traveling on nearby highways. New activity from the Eagle Ford Shale located to in the counties south of Refugio is starting an uptick in economic growth.
“The things that have happened have really helped out,” Tuttle said, referring to the Eagle Ford Shale, which has led to a boost from new service companies relocating into town even though there is no drilling taking place within the county. “They have helped our locals find jobs right here at home, where they don’t have to do the traveling,” Tuttle said.
Jobs are plentiful and housing is in demand – so much so that Refugio is doing all it can to attract developers and build new homes.
The Eagle Ford Shale’s economic benefits are reaching industries across the community.
Cody Walker, owner of Le Blue Sky, Ladies Boutique says business is up – and she credits some of that to the energy boom that has taken place in neighboring counties. “We (have) not only directly but indirectly (been affected) being that their husbands work in the oil fields or have oil field-related companies, and that in turn gives them safe passage to come to Blue Skies,” she said.
Robbie Blaschke, general sales manager at Wilkinson Chevrolet, said demand for lifted trucks has risen considerably since the explosion of Eagle Ford Shale in nearby towns. “These have become a hot commodity here in Refugio County,” he said.
Refugio County is an example of how the rising tides from development like the Eagle Ford Shale are helping lift the economies in adjacent communities.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), Texas was the leading crude oil-producing state in 2013, exceeding production levels even from the federal offshore areas. This is why the Lone Star State ranks as the ninth largest oil-producing region in the world – greater than Middle Eastern Goliaths like United Arab Emirates and Kuwait.
We can thank the Eagle Ford Shale for this Texas-sized accomplishment. The onshore oil reserve, according to Forbes, is the largest oil and gas development worldwide in terms of total capital expenditures. The Eagle Ford already produces more than 352,000 barrels a day. However, Thomas Tunstall, research director for the University of Texas at San Antonio’s Institute for Economic Development believes that “it’s likely to [reach] the million-barrel-per-day mark this year.”
The benefits that the Eagle Ford Shale has brought to Refugio County and its surrounding communities are endless. In less than half a decade, it has radically remade the economic fortunes of a region, attracting new jobs, tax revenues, and residents. All this from a county that neighbors the Eagle Ford.
The good news is that this trend isn’t limited to Refugio County. The entire state of Texas is also seeing economic benefit. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recently released a report showing that Texas added 22 percent of all jobs nationwide in April. And Texas’ 5.2 percent unemployment rate is the lowest since September 2008 and more than a full percentage point below the national average.
Unfortunately, some special interest groups like the Sierra Club and Food and Water Watch are intent on stopping energy development – and the lower energy costs and prosperity that come with it. By advancing shale energy, we can bring forth new jobs and new tax revenues to fund schools and local initiatives.
Instead of misleading American consumers, safe and responsible energy production should be promoted. Texas is proof of this. That is why it is vital that the oil and gas industry continue to engage with Texans – and all Americans – about the many opportunities that shale energy offers. Today’s energy renaissance is the latest chapter in our pursuit of the American dream.