Wind, Oil, Gas Abundant in Coastal Bend of Texas
A daily, steady breeze in Coastal Bend of Texas helps fan the region’s growing wind energy sector, while Coastal Bend’s more traditional energy economy of oil and natural gas is experiencing a new and exciting wave of investment.
Parts of the region are in the Eagle Ford Shale, a huge deposit of oil and natural gas that extends 400 miles across South Texas.
In 2010, Eagle Ford Shale generated 6,800 full-time jobs and paid $311 million in salaries and benefits. When spinoff jobs are added to the mix – from support industries to restaurants – the numbers rise to 12,600 full-time jobs and $512 million in salaries.
A University of Texas at San Antonio study estimates that by 2020, the Eagle Ford will support more than 67,000 full-time jobs in the region.
Oil, Gas Fuel Support Industries
Jim Wells County is just one example of how the energy industry literally energizes the local economy. “Alice has been the hub of the South Texas oilfield for three generations, resulting in a cluster of drilling, trucking, service and supply operations,” says Dean Kruckenberg, executive director of the Alice & Jim Wells County Economic Development Corp.
The state comptroller reports a 44 percent increase in sales tax revenues for Jim Wells County in 2011 over 2010, most of which is directly attributable to oilfield business, Kruckenberg says.
In San Patricio County, TPCO America is investing $1 billion to construct a plant that will produce seamless steel pipe for oil and gas extraction. The project is expected to create 300 jobs within its first two years of operation and 500 to 600 jobs when fully operational.
In spring 2011, Canyon Supply and Logistics agreed to acquire 776 acres of the former Naval Station Ingleside from the Port Corpus Christi for $102 million and convert the site into an offshore oil exploration service center. Canyon currently is negotiating to bring added educational and training opportunities to the 136 acres remaining on the site. This "campus" space has great potential for training to support wind and solar energy research and offshore safety training.
Wind Blows Strong in the Coastal Bend
E.ON Climate and Renewables North America recently completed Phase II construction of its Papalote Wind Project in San Patricio County. The $460 million investment will supply energy to central Texas.
“Electricity is priced every 15 minutes in Texas and the highest prices occur in the daytime when demand is highest,” notes Josephine Miller, executive director of the San Patricio Economic Development Council. “Our region is one of the few places in the country where the wind is strong in the daytime.”
The Coastal Bend of Texas has another advantage in terms of wind energy – space on the local transmission system. “Companies can put up wind towers here and contract to move their electricity onto the transmission system and get it to market,” Miller says.