How will lifted ban on oil exports affect South Texas?

STEER examines effects of end of 40-year-old ban

By Concetta Callahan – Anchor/Reporter

SAN ANTONIO – The recent news on America’s 40-year-old ban on oil exports being lifted comes as oil prices continue to plunge, taking away any economic incentive for exports.

So will the lift have any effect on South Texas?

Haley Curry, vice president of external affairs at South Texas Energy and Economic Roundtable, or STEER, said the lift means more activity for the area in the long run. But the area won’t see it right away.

“There’s a lot of production out there, a lot of surplus of oil,” Curry said.

The industry took a turn this time last year, and families felt it throughout the 2015 with thousands of layoffs.

Eagle Ford started at the renaissance of shale fracking in the United States.

Business boomed quickly. So fast, that Curry said it was never going to be a sustainable growth pattern. Oil and gas is a cyclable industry.

Cotulla, located just south of San Antonio, is feeling it firsthand.

“I think we’ve gone through about three stages. The production side continues to produce at a good clip, and there are still a lot of companies that are still doing a lot of production from their current facilities,” Cotulla City Administrator Larry Dovalina said.

STEER looked at multiple studies, including one done by the University of Houston. Their findings indicate that South Texas and Eagle Ford will be the first to bounce back.

“We’re really good at drilling and hydraulic fracturing, and where we are, we’ve been able to do that, because we figured it out while prices were high. Also, we’re very close to the ports, very close to Corpus Christi and Baytown in Houston, so we don’t have as much transportation costs to get our oil to market,” Curry said.

Projections show the price of oil will remain low through early 2016.

In March, industry insiders are hopeful the price per barrel will begin to inch upward.

“Better price means more money in our pockets, (which) means we’re able to do more activity, more drilling, more hydraulic fractures in South Texas and hopefully hire some more people back in the near future,” Curry said.