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Texas energy overseer drafts five-year plan

Christi Craddick re-elected as the head of the Railroad Commission of Texas.

By Daniel J. Graeber
Christi Craddick,(center) elected chairman of the Railroad Commission by fellow commissioners David Porter (left) and Ryan Sitton (right). Photo from the Texas Railroad Commission
Christi Craddick,(center) elected chairman of the Railroad Commission by fellow commissioners David Porter (left) and Ryan Sitton (right). Photo from the Texas Railroad Commission

AUSTIN, Texas, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- The newly-minted head of a Texas oil and gas commission said her focus over the next five years was to lower the economic burden for the industry.

Christi Craddick was elected to a six-year term as the chairperson of the Railroad Commission of Texas, the state agency that oversees the fossil fuel industry in the state.

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Texas is the No. 1 oil producer in the nation and lower crude oil prices had put strains on the state's economy, with some energy companies leaving the Houston area as the downturn dragged on this year. Craddick, a veteran of the commission, said as recently as September, however, there were signs of recovery on the horizon, with the Permian shale basin in particular showing signs of strength even as pressure in the broader sector remains.

Nevertheless, a survey of business activity from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas found companies tied to the exploration and production side of the energy sector showed contraction, but at a slower pace than previous quarters.

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"We are in a pivotal time for enormous energy growth in the United States, and particularly in Texas," the Republican attorney said. "My priorities for the agency continue to include our focus on maximizing efficiency throughout our processes and rules so that we are able to do our job better and at less expense to taxpayers and industry."

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A recent survey from the U.S. Geological Survey found the Wolfcamp shale reserve within the Permian basin in Texas could be the largest oil and gas deposit ever assessed in the country. Strains continued with the preliminary production of crude oil average of 2.38 million barrels per day in September about 1.5 percent lower than last year.

Craddick said she'd kick off 2017 with a five-year plan aimed at steering the industry through an era when crude oil prices are 50 percent lower than they were in 2014. She said even her agency was feeling the burdens of the market downturn.

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"We will make our case for necessary consistent revenue sources for the agency as well as immediate funding so that we are able to fully carry out the agency's important functions," she said.

Craddick replaces David Porter as chairperson.

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