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UTSA Report: West Texas Counties Need To Prepare For Gas Boom Population Growth

UTSA Institute for Economic Development

A new study by UTSA’s Institute for Economic Development shows a rapidly-rising economy is in store for the West Texas oil and gas play.

The largest oil production in Texas has always been in the Permian Basin, but with new hydraulic fracking technologies, more of the shale plays around the state are starting to get a piece of the pie. 

Dr. Thomas Tunstall, the lead researcher on a UTSA economic impact study for 10 West Texas counties for the years from 2012-2022, expects many of the dynamics experienced by the Eagle Ford Shale communities to be repeated where fracking has begun in West Texas. 

"Certainly as the activity continues to increase they can expect to see population increases and strains on the infrastructure," Tunstall said. 

The 10 counties are contiguous, located generally in an area between Midland-Odessa and San Angelo that has been called the Cline Shale. Tunstall said the study forecasts more than $20 billion in economic output for the West Texas Consortium in 2022, which means the communities have time to get out in front of the development before rapid production and population growth leave them flat-footed:

"We're trying to give them the tools they need to plan, to put into place sustainable housing developments and to think about what the permanent housing stock needs to be," Tunstall said. "And, of course, that's a tough question to answer."

While results are predicted to be more modest than the Eagle Ford Shale, Tunstall’s study forecasts 10,000 jobs will be added and that the economic output will grow from $14.5 billion in 2012 to $20.5 billion in 2022. 

West Texas Region 10 County Level Impacts of Oil and Gas Phase 2 by Texas Public Radio

Eileen Pace is a veteran radio and print journalist with a long history of investigative and feature reporting in San Antonio and Houston, earning more than 50 awards for investigative reporting, documentaries, long-form series, features, sports stories, outstanding anchoring and best use of sound.