About 12 months ago, I wrote a column about the changing seasons. For most of the world around this time of year summer is giving way to fall and many transformations are occurring. Temperatures are dropping and leaves are changing colors. September, while it might not bring cooler temperatures to our corner of the world, still does bring many other changes to the Permian Basin. Swimming pools are closing, summer vacations are at an end, kids are getting back to school, and football is kicking off. Whether it is a change in your routine, a change in the weather, or a more direct transformation to your way of life, transition from the familiar always comes with the question of what does that change truly mean?
Last year at this time the murmured questions we all asked or heard concerned a possible re
covering of the oil and natural gas industry in the Permian Basin after the 2015/2016 downturn. Well, I think we can put those questions to bed. To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, we have a recovery, if we can keep it. It is important to bear in mind, however, that change isn’t done with us. And what that recovery truly means or how long it will last is still not entirely clear. As we all know too well, change in our industry is truly the only constant.
One change or transformation of interest that has come about with our apparent recovery is one that brings back memories of the ‘80s and early ‘90s, when names like Texaco, ARCO, and Amoco were still part of our lexicon. A time when it wasn’t just the independent oil man who relied on the resources found in the Permian Basin, but the integrated and major producers as well.
The majors are once again becoming forefront and center when it comes to the current story of the Permian Basin, with each of the seven sisters, or their successors, now large players in the Permian Basin. Integrated companies have increased if not renewed their operations in West Texas and Southeastern New Mexico, looking to take advantage of the Permian Basin’s reemergence as the crude oil producing basin of North America. What this will mean for the evolution of the Permian Basin oil and natural gas industry is not yet known.
What is known, however, is the wolf at the door is tomorrow’s scheduled job, and that wolf is only growling louder and louder. A year ago, we were concerned about infrastructure limitations, fights over possible Endangered Species Act listings, and how those and others matters could impact the possible Permian Basin recovery. The PBPA has worked with local, state, and national government bodies and elected officials in the past 12 months to help keep impacts on our operations to a minimum, but more work is still needed if the Permian Basin is to reach its full potential. So maybe the right questions to ask now are, if we do indeed have a recovery what can we do to keep it, and who will be willing to step up and take the necessary action? Whatever the answer may be to the first question, I promise you the Permian Basin Petroleum Association will always be the answer to the second.