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Ups & Downs of the Boom

A look at the positives and negatives of the current oil boom
Midland -- Oil and gas is an industry that's seeing global growth. For the Permian Basin, the most recent boom started in 2010 and unlike booms in the past, it's being sustained by more than just the price of oil. For example, horizontal drilling and other technological advances have expanded the playing field.

"Before we had the conventional reservoirs and the price of oil went up then other people started drilling more and producing the conventional. But now, we have such a larger area of unconventionals...Areas that weren't leased. Areas that are new frontiers and so there's a lot more area and a lot more players," said Hoxie Smith, Petroleum Professional Development Center director.

A lot more players and a lot more people. It's growth that's brought with it positive and negative impacts on local communities.

"It's definitely helped our area. I mean, look at the unemployment rate. (It's the) lowest in the country," said Smith.

Not only is it having an impact on local communities, according to Midland Mayor Wes Perry, it's having an impact on the country... even the world. "When you think about what's going on in the energy business...you can hit the Eagle Ford, you can hit North Dakota and the Bakken, but really the Permian is the one driving our energy industry for the country and not only that...in a world sense because a lot of the technology that's being used worldwide has started here in the Permian."

But with all the good has come the bad. For example, a lack of affordable housing, a teacher shortage, and dangerous roads...a problem Mayor Perry is all too familiar with.

"We know we have more trucks and cars on the roads so what we're trying to do is invest in them differently. Instead of doing a seal coat process, we're rebuilding the whole road," he said.

And with a new fatality reported in the Basin almost weekly, the Mayor also encourages friendlier driving. "I really think it's going to take that....not so much government coming in and putting hundreds of officers on the roads."

Dangerous roads, over-populated schools and a lack of housing are all problems the Mayor says can be fixed, which is a good thing considering most believe there's plenty of oil to continue powering the country for at least the next century. And as long as the price of oil remains strong, there's no sign of this boom slowing down anytime soon.

"We're no longer just a sleepy little town in West Texas. We are really one of the world energy leaders," added Mayor Perry.

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