Saturday, February 25, 2012
This post isn't about Boomtown, the Toby Keith CD. The title did remind me of it and, if you're going to listen to that mass produced dribble out of Nashville, it's arguably some of his best. There are signs of an oil boom all over the Eagle Ford Shale in South Texas. New pickups are a dime a dozen and the landowners lucky enough to have mineral rights are dressed like dandies strutting into town on a Friday night. The locals have their hackles up; bitching about the hyper inflated prices for everything, while happily pocketing the proceeds. Some of the worst food you've ever eaten is being served in the local greasy spoons and people are liking it. To be fair you can find some decent eateries around, you just have to look. Almost condemned buildings are seeing new life and formerly "dead" main streets are buzzing again. Except for Walmart, most of the big box stores haven't made the plunge yet. So your only recourse is to pay the aforementioned hyper inflated prices and hit the local Ace Hardware or Super S Store. Plots of hardscrabble land, barely good enough to graze livestock on, have become part of a real estate boom. Very few can afford to purchase the land now; but, those that have it have turned them into RV parks and terminals for oil equipment. Local land clearing and heavy equipment companies are running night and day to make pads. RV's are parked on top of one another on what I call bald ass prairie (little or no shade anywhere) and workers are glad to have the spot. Contract help has to drive over 100 miles daily to and from the rig because all the local flop houses are full. Even then a game of room hopscotch occurs as the hotel struggles to honor prior reservations. I don't know what happened to McDonalds, Burger King, KFC and others ( maybe the high land prices), but they are few and far between. Only Dairy Queen seems established out here and they are doing a land office business. Epic drives for consumables are the order of the day, so an accurate list is a necessity. You don't want to drive 80-100 miles only to find out you forgot the bread or bacon. Now you know why we are really enjoying being only a few miles from town. If you have a skill, you can almost name your salary. Truck drivers/CDL holders are seeing 4 and 5 figure bonuses just for signing on with a company. Most stay under the 100 mile trip limit to stay away from logging and work day and night. Graduate students fresh out of college, knowledgeable in geology, have a "golden ticket" here. Then you have the army of vendors that work the rigs day and night. If they need it, they do not want to wait for it, and hotshots are in demand. I bet some in and around Houston wish they'd bought up all that oil equipment when the bottom fell out in the 70's. A little time down here and you start knowing where places like Refugio, Nixon, Yorktown, Three Rivers and Carrizo Springs are. You learn to embrace the Hispanic culture and admire the mostly hard working folk that comprise it. Along with their language there's the language of the rigs to learn. Words and phrases like tripping pipe, reaching TD, fracking, company man, spudding, the cellar, etc. Yep, it's boom times down here and if you can laugh at all the craziness and put up with the inconveniences, there's money to be made.