Monday, January 18, 2016

The Allure of Sub $2.00 a Gallon Fuel

Americans are jumping on cheap fill ups and both spending and putting the savings in their pockets. The unfortunate consequences, however, are beginning to be felt. A concoction of events has served to mire the economies of both the United States and China; two of the world's largest economies, in an economic tailspin. Meanwhile, while demand is down, more oil than ever is flooding the market. Two recent, significant events have further depressed the price of oil. Iran is coming back on the market after years of sanctions and several long term offshore projects are due to come on line. I stand behind my belief that Saudi Arabia and the members of OPEC had directional drilling in the United States in mind when they refused to cut production as the world's economies slowed. It remains to be seen how long OPEC can hold out with oil at nearly $20 a barrel. Here in the South Texas oil patch the effect has been devastating. Thousands have been laid off and machinery is stacked all over. So many other industries are affected that it is hard to count. There are (or were) caterers, house cleaners, porta potty folks, welders, office staff, rail workers, truck drivers, laborers, security companies, office staff - I can go on for a long time. All of those have a symbiotic relationship with professions and jobs that have little or nothing to do with the petroleum business. We also have leadership that sees petroleum and coal products as dirty fuel and seemingly could care less what affect their policy has on those who make a living working and producing it. Meanwhile, the average American rejoices as he or she sticks that fuel nozzle in their tank. I believe the effects on the rest of our economy will be profound as the "oil recession" makes its way through it. The economies of Houston, Dallas and San Antonio are already seeing depressed home sales and a significant uptick in foreclosures. Working near the well head gives you a unique perspective on things. Every time I get more and more news of layoffs, bankruptcies and cutbacks I am left to wonder when it will finally settle down. Remember that I said this. We will not see $100 plus a barrel of oil again in my lifetime. I have had the privilege of witnessing a historic event as I chronicled the boom in South Texas. Fortunately it made me slow down, enjoy and take in everything. So often in life we miss out on experiences going on right in front of us. Though I doubt I will be so privileged again, I sincerely hope I am. I would love to see the craziness of a few years ago again.

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