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Oil, gas jobs rise again in Texas

End-of-year stats show recovery is finally here

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Jobs in Texas’ oil and gas industry rose at the end of 2016 for the first time in more than two years, another sign that the long-awaited recovery in the state’s energy sector is gaining traction.

Texas added an estimated 3,000 oil and gas jobs in November and December, after shedding more than 100,000 during the industry downturn that began in mid-2014, said Karr Ingham, an economist who studies the state’s oil and gas sector.

“For the first time in three years,” Ingham said, “there’s optimism.”

The job gains are the latest indicator that the oil and gas industry is rebounding after an extended bust. Oil prices have doubled since hitting a low of $26 a barrel last February, settling in New York at $53.17 Friday. Drillers have returned about 140 rigs to operation in Texas oil and gas fields since May, when the rig count hit bottom. Companies are flocking to the productive and lucrative Permian Basin in West Texas, spending billions to acquire land and drilling rights.

But Ingham, in his analysis for the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers, cautioned that the industry shouldn’t expect to see a boom anytime soon. Despite recent gains, both the rig count and drilling permits are down about two-thirds from their peak in 2014, when prices were above $100 a barrel. The state, for example, issued more than 3,000 drilling permits in both September and October 2014; in December, the state issued just over 1,000.

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Written by Ryan Maye Handy

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