SAN ANTONIO – How long will it last?
That has been the question often expressed in regard to the intense activity and production of oil and gas energy resources from within the Eagle Ford Shale.
Although initial projections by oil and gas industry experts had been estimating a lifespan of 10 to 20 years when drilling activity began to intensify four years ago, more and more leaders in this field are beginning to speculate that production from the region could continue for 30 or 40 years – perhaps even longer.
This is largely due to rapid advancements in technologies related to oil and gas production, especially in regard to horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing.
This message was an underlying theme that industry leaders talked about at the Eagle Ford Consortium Conference in San Antonio last month, and the speakers universally expressed optimism that the long range economic impact to the communities in the region continues to look extraordinarily positive.
Jobs and jobs with wages far higher than minimum wage are a big benefit to communities as a result of the ongoing oil boom. While unemployment rates were in double digits in some communities in the region several years ago, they have now dropped to rates as low as three percent in some areas as a result of the development of the resource.
Leodoro Martinez, Eagle Ford Consortium chairman, said partnerships are the key to success in the long term development of the shale.
As it becomes clearer with each passing month that this boom will not be short-lived, such as the kind seen many years ago, Martinez said it is more important that operators working to develop the energy resource work now to build solid and longstanding relationships with the communities in which they are working.
“For many of us, those that live in the midst of everything that is happening – it is transformational,” Martinez said. “Our communities are changing and as they change so do our responsibilities and so does our ability and our necessity to identify strong leadership.”
“Everything that we are experiencing in the Eagle Ford Shale is something that, at the end of the day, will make us stronger,” he said. “It will make us a bigger part – more of a contributor and play a bigger role in the State of Texas and certainly in our nation.”
Challenges, always come with any such dramatic transformation, Martinez noted.
“It is important, it is incumbent upon us, it is incumbent upon our leaders to be able to identify with that,” Rodriguez said. “And make those strong partnerships side by side with the industry so that we try to find solutions that will make our communities stronger.”
Texas Workforce Commission Chairman Andres Alcantar said that there have been many opportunities and change brought forward within the 20-county region above the Eagle Ford Shale formation.
“The Eagle Ford Shale is a really unique and innovative play,” Alcantar said. “It is important for us and for the people of Texas for a number of reasons.”
Among the challenges is the sudden demand for a workforce to meet the immediate needs of the industry, Alcantar said.
“Where are we going to be ready?” he asked. “Where are communities going to have places for people to live or where are we going to find the workers that are going to be needed? Where are we going to be able to take advantage of this once in a lifetime opportunity?”
There is a great deal of angst overcome with excitement and optimism about what is on the horizon for communities within the region, and for the State of Texas, as a whole, Alcantar noted.
Alcantar said as a result of this oil boom, Texas leads the country in job creation with 310,000 jobs created as a result of the boom. He said education and training are keys to taking the fullest advantage to these new opportunities. Today’s kindergartners, make up much of the potential workforce that likely will be needed in 15 to 20 years.
“It is a very exciting time in Texas,” Alcantar said, noting that working together in partnerships is the key to success and prolonged prosperity for the people of the communities and the people of Texas.
“All of you are a great part of that story that is being written right now,” Alcantar said. “The time in our nation’s history when we became more independent, when we became less reliant on the whims of other countries.”