The Texas upstream industry added a record 6,800 jobs in May, but the oil and gas industry overall may be at risk as activity slows and the rig count falls because of low prices, according to a top state energy economist.

The monthly Texas Petro Index (TPI) compiled by economist Karr Ingham for the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers (TAEP) showed that exploration and production (E&P) activity in May declined month/month to 172.8 from 176.5. The TPI is calculated using 1995 as the base year. 

The “massive monthly employment gain,” may not be sustained, Ingham said. Jobs are “often the last domino to fall after prices have weakened and begun to take drilling measures down with them.”

TAEP noted that natural gas prices are “dramatically weaker” in 2023 compared with...