Another company is increasing its presence in South Texas in the Eagle Ford Shale. Penn Virginia Corporation has increased its holdings by 4,100 net acres in Gonzales and Lavaca counties for $10 million. This brings the company to 31,000 net and 41,100 gross acres in the Eagle Ford. In Gonzales County, the new 3,200 net acres is adjacent to Penn Virginia’s development area and is estimated to have 20 horizontal well locations. The 895 net acres in Lavaca County is complimentary to existing Penn Virginia locations in nine units, with an estimated additional 10 horizontal well locations.
This activity is bringing an economic boom to South Texas. The Railroad Commission of Texas has issued an estimated 4,293 drilling permits for the Eagle Ford in 2012 alone. This has brought jobs to a region that long suffered from double digit unemployment and poverty.
“If you’re looking for a job, this is the place to be. If you want to relocate, this is the place to be,” said Diane Laplow of San Antonio. There were 48,000 new jobs created by activity in the shale last year. Aside from working directly in the oil and gas industry, this boom is bringing opportunities for small business as well, creating many jobs in other sectors of the local economy. For example, people are opening family businesses, like restaurants, to feed hungry oil workers. “It’s a very good spot to start a business,” said Sarah Cadena, a native of the area whose family now owns a burger and wings joint on a busy highway.
The area has grown so much so quickly that it has actually caused some growing pains, and the Eagle Ford Consortium is working on this. According to its website: “(t)he Consortium is composed of stakeholder representatives of a cross-section of community members. The group offers a forum for beneficial education and information-sharing among agencies and an opportunity for agencies to identify common issues and work together on defining potential solutions.” These growing pains include including roads clogged with truck traffic, overburdened utilities, and a severe housing shortage that’s given rise to “man camps” for workers. Trailer parks are springing up to house oil workers, and many people sleep in bunk beds in places with several other workers. Long lines have plagued grocery stores and gas stations, because the availability of these services has not caught up with the population. Restaurants are crowded and prices have gone up dramatically.
But all of this overall is great news for South Texas. The bottlenecks of housing and retail services will be resolved in time, with even more jobs in construction to serve these workers, which in turn will create a stronger and more diverse economy in this region of Texas.
Leodoro Martinez, chairman of the Eagle Ford Consortium, said, “[This] is a huge change, if you know the history of South Texas, the border area, our high unemployment rate, our poverty level. This is a total transformation of that — the opportunity to have success stories.”
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