Texas oil trade group sees investment pickup in 2018

State leaders last year said they were looking for a capital push to help get port infrastructure on pace with shale oil and gas trends.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |  Jan. 3, 2018 at 6:37 AM
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Jan. 3 (UPI) -- A trade group in Texas said 2018 looked good for the oil and gas business, with investments trickling down to the coastal and manufacturing sectors.

Texas is the No. 1 oil producing state in the country and home to some of the most lucrative shale basins, notably the Permian reservoir. The state's economy was hobbled by the downturn in the energy sector that hit bottom in early 2016.

In a survey for fourth quarter 2017, the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas said Hurricane Harvey, which hit the largest density of refineries on the southern Gulf Coast in late August, caused $70 billion in direct damage and left around 22,000 people without a job.

Todd Staples, the president of the Texas Oil and Gas Association, said the sector as a whole was back on its feet, recovering about 30 percent of the jobs lost to the energy market downturn since December 2014.

"The level of investment we're seeing in Texas' oil and natural gas reserves, infrastructure, coastal ports and manufacturing is good news for the New Year because all Texans benefit from a healthy oil and natural gas market," he said in an emailed statement.

In December, the Texas Railroad Commission, the state's energy regulator, told UPI it needed capital support to expand the port infrastructure necessary to help keep up with the increase in U.S. oil and gas exports.

The port at Corpus Christi is the fourth largest sea port in the country by tonnage, the largest crude oil export terminal and, by 2020, could be one of the largest points for liquefied natural gas leaving the United States.

The port authority there started working on improvements to the regional shipping channel in the 1990s. A partnership agreement was signed with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in September for improvements, but the commission said they were still waiting for funding.

Nevertheless, state data show general improvements across the sector. The Texas Workforce Commission reported the number of jobs in mining and logging jumped 15.2 percent from November 2016, the largest growth for any segment.

"Upstream job growth continues to be solid and manufacturing -- made economically feasible because of low cost natural gas -- should continue to drive capital investment and job expansion along the Gulf Coast region," Staples added.

Upstream refers to the exploration and production side of the energy sector. Texas accounts for about half of that activity in the country.

A survey of 134 energy firms from Dec. 13-21 by the Dallas Fed showed an index measuring confidence had its first sign of reduced uncertainty since the first quarter of 2017. Most of that optimism came from drilling services companies, those that were hit hard by the market downturn in early 2016.

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