You don’t have to look far to see that the oil economy has been taking some critical hits.
Just last week, Chevron announced they will be laying off 1,500 workers. Then the following day, Royal Dutch Shell said they’ll be cutting 6,500 – all while prices at the pump has continuously dropped since January.
It’s a familiar story. But what does that story look like on the ground in one of the many Texas cities whose livelihoods depend on the energy economy? The Standard speaks with Rye Druzin of the Midland Reporter-Telegram about the next chapter for of Texas oil.
On the situation in Midland:
Compared to six, nine months ago, Midland has definitely changed a little bit. Apartment blocks have fewer cars in their parking lots. They’re giving monthly deals — so, free month’s rent — things like that. That was unthinkable a year ago. Apartment rents used to be at $1,300 for a 1980s apartment, for a single bedroom. Now, those are going for $700 a month, $800.… A lot has changed because people have left.
On the area’s economy:
There isn’t a sense that the bottom has fallen out, not yet at least. There has been a lag time which is still catching people off guard even today — that despite the fact that the price of oil is at half of what it was a year ago today, we haven’t felt the economic downturn hit us as hard as other areas in the country.
On the cyclical nature of the oil industry:
People who I’ve talked to — who have been in this business and worked for 15, 20 years to 40, 50 years — say it’s a cyclical business; this always happens. I think what changed with this was that they haven’t had a boom in so long, that the technology kind of changed the calculus. And all of a sudden, there was all this money that reinvigorated this area: the fracking boom…. I think that the amount of money that was coming into the area, the amount of people that was coming into the area, really has changed the Midland/ Odessa dynamic.