EDITORIAL — Hostage to producer: Texas fuels growth

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 15, 2019

Southeast Texas people hold deep understanding of where we have been historically when it comes to oil and gas. But, oh, the places we — and our state — have traveled since then.

It started 12 decades back at Spindletop and Beaumont, when the discovery of oil turned the world’s eyes toward this place as a source of production for fueling what was soon to be an emerging automobile industry. Geology put us at the front of a nascent, global industry.

The Texas Oil & Gas Association’s president, Todd Staples, created a “Ted Talk” some months back that the association has updated into a clear and cogent picture of where our state has come since that time. By happenstance of geography, with our position on the Sabine Neches Waterway, we are squarely placed in energy’s future.

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Staples’ short presentation points to the “four P’s”of the energy industry: production, pipelines, processing and ports. Spindletop, Sour Lake and other nearby locations gave our region of Texas our early prowess as a production and pipeline center.

The state — of late, western Texas — has continued to build on that status as the Eagle Ford and Permian have become seemingly bottomless sources of crude oil and natural gas. That is so much so, Staples says, that if we in Texas were our own nation, we’d rank No. 3 in the world as a producer. Texas resources, our ingenuity and drive have helped catapult this state and the U.S. into the position of No. 1 producer in the world.

That provides more than a sense of pride and profit. Yes, Texas is playing an “outsized” role in the global industry. But that success also provides us — our state, nation and allies — with an increased sense of security. If it doesn’t, you’ve forgotten rationing lines in the 1970s, when American industry was held hostage to Middle East energy producers.

These days, pipelines across the state have moved Texas-produced crude oil and natural gas to where it can be processed here in refineries and plants and shipped from our ports to the rest of the world. Imagine that: Within our lifetimes we’ve gone from hostage to energy provider.

Here’s what that means in Texas: Figures updated since Staples’ early 2019 talk show that the industry paid more than $14 billion a year in state and local taxes and royalties in Fiscal Year 2018. That’s $38 million a day that fuels education and infrastructure in Texas.

There’s more to come, and Southeast Texas is a big part of the story. The U.S. ships its surplus crude and liquefied natural gas from our coastal Texas ports to allies around the world. We’re at the front end of that.

If there’s a limit, we’re not seeing it today.