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Texas Oil/Gas Boom Nearing Five-Year Mark; 'Petro Index' Sets New Record

The upstream oil and gas economy in Texas has been expanding for the past four and a half years and shows no signs of slowing thanks in part -- but not entirely -- to global geopolitical tensions, according to a barometer of industry activity called the Texas Petro Index (TPI).

The TPI, which is compiled be economist Karr Ingham, set another record, hitting 308.4 and marking the index's seventh straight monthly increase and 18th rise in the past 19 months.

"At year-end 2013, the prevailing expectation was that crude oil prices could soften modestly in 2014, and that might have been the case absent the tensions between Russia and the Ukraine and events in Iraq," Ingham said. "Crude oil prices have risen thus far in 2014 and averaged over $100 in June. The effect of those price increases has been to bring about an uptick of activity in the Texas E&P [exploration and production] sector."

Ingham said Texas has experienced two major expansions of oil and gas E&P activity in the past decade. The first, from 2003-2008, was principally natural gas-driven, with 80% of rigs drilling for gas; the current expansion--which began in December 2009--is crude oil-driven, with about 92% of active rigs drilling for oil.

During the current period of expansion, the TPI has increased by 64%; rig count has increased by more 170%; the number of drilling permits issued has more than doubled; and upstream industry employment has grown by about 62%. The volume of crude oil produced in Texas has increased by nearly 180% during the period.

"All these signs point to continued petroleum-industry expansion in 2014 and crude oil pricing levels high enough to sustain that expansion," Ingham said. "In addition, the risk premium that has been propping up prices is quite likely to remain in place, if not escalate, which also supports continued industry economic expansion in the coming months."

A composite index based upon a group of upstream economic indicators, the TPI in June was 308.4, up 7.4% compared to June 2013. Before the current economic expansion, the TPI's previous all-time high of 287.6 occurred in September and October 2008, after which the TPI declined to 188.5 in December 2009 before embarking upon the current growth cycle.

During June, Texas crude oil production was an estimated 89.75 million bbl, nearly 17.5 million bbl (24.2%) more than in June 2013. The value of Texas-produced crude oil totaled more than $9.1 billion, 37.1% more than in June 2013.

Estimated Texas natural gas output was nearly 680.5 Bcf during June, a year-over-year monthly increase of about 0.4%. With natural gas prices in June averaging 4.36/Mcf, the value of Texas-produced gas increased 5.7% to about $2.97 billion.

The Baker Hughes count of active drilling rigs in Texas averaged 891 during June, compared to 841 in June 2013. Drilling activity in Texas peaked in September 2008 at a monthly average of 946 rigs before falling to a trough of 329 in June 2009. During the current economic expansion, the statewide average monthly rig count peaked at 932 in May and June 2012.

The number of Texans on oil and gas industry payrolls averaged a record 297,800 in June, according to statistical methods based upon Texas Workforce Commission estimates, about 6.2% more than in June 2013. Industry employment in Texas has increased by more than 66% -- about118,600 workers -- since falling to a nadir of 179,200 in October 2009. During the previous growth cycle, industry employment peaked at 223,200 in November 2008.

During the first half of this year Texas producers recovered an estimated 519.1 million bbl of crude oil, a 23% year-over-year increase. Crude oil wellhead prices increased 7.3% to average $97.35/bbl, boosting the value of Texas-produced crude oil by 32.4% to about $50.57 billion.

Also during the first six months of this year, natural gas wellhead prices increased 25.7% to average $4.62/Mcf, and gas production increased to 4.1 Tcf, up to 0.3%, boosting the estimated value of Texas-produced gas to more than$18.7 billion.

About 290,000 Texans on were employed in the oil and gas production, drilling, and service sectors, up about 5.7% compared to first-half 2013.

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