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San Antonio manufacturers waiting for oil’s comeback

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Duffy Shea used revenue from the oilfield boom to return San Antonio’s 141-year-old Alamo Iron Works to profitability after it emerged from bankruptcy in 2010.

Roughly a third of the steel fabricator’s revenue was coming from the oilfield at the market’s peak. But the boom eventually turned bust and by the end of 2016, Shea said demand from the oilfield dropped by about 50 percent.

“When things go south in the energy world nobody dims the light – they turn them off,” he said.

The collapse in oil prices from $107 a barrel in June 2014 and to a 13-year low of $26 in February 2016 led to billions of dollars of spending cuts and widespread job losses. Roughly 163,000 oil jobs were slashed across the nation from the 2014 peak, or about 30 percent of the total. The job losses just in Texas, the most productive oil-producing state, totaled 98,000.

While the impact was less noticable in San Antonio, which is located to the north of the sprawling Eagle Ford Shale region, it was still felt. The Alamo City is the home of oil and gas exploration and production company Abraxas Petroleum and service company Pioneer Energy Services Corp., but it doesn’t have the volume of oil industry activity like Midland, Odessa and Houston.

“San Antonio has about 15 percent of its manufacturing jobs in (energy) industries versus about 30 percent for the state,” said Keith Phillips, a senior economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas’ San Antonio branch.

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Written by Rye Druzin

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