You almost can’t talk about the Texas economy without mentioning the oil and gas industry. Much of the state’s wealth, and its global image, is tied to energy production. But the oil market is a fickle beast.
In a new piece for The New Yorker, staff writer and native Texan Lawrence Wright tracks the boom and bust cycles of the state’s energy industry, and looks at whether the state’s fortunes might always be beholden to black gold.
The Texas oil and gas industry begins in 1901, Wright says, when Patillo Higgins drilled a well near Beaumont that yielded a massive gusher.
“He was aiming to get a well that would produce 50 gallons a day,” Wright says. “But it was producing 100,000 barrels a day for the first nine days, before they capped it. That was more than all the wells in the United States combined.”
Soon after Higgins’ strike, others began drilling, and the industry’s first price crash occurred – and so began the long series of boom and bust cycles that continue until today.
Wright profiles three major Texas oil discoveries, tracking development in the industry through the present day, and how the first fracked well in Texas also signaled more serious discussion of “peak oil” – the point at which more than half the available resource has been drilled.
Written by Shelly Brisbin.