Natural gas prices slow down drilling in East Texas

NACOGDOCHES COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - Empty computer terminals where landmen would search all day for new oil and gas leases sit idle. A lot of the information is now online, but right now that doesn't really matter.

"They're not looking for new leases," said Chief Appraiser Gary Woods. "They're not chasing down ownerships because things are a little bit slow. Things slow down when he price goes down. It's just typical economics."

Rental property once used for land offices sit vacant. Vacancies at hotel and bed and breakfast inns are up in number too.

"I believe in some way we all depended on it, you know, because it was steady income and, you know, once it's gone, it's just gone," said Cathy Sanders, an inn keeper.

It's a reflection of the numbers. More than a decade ago Nacogdoches mineral production values were $100 million. In 2006, they jumped fivefold and peaked in 2009 at $800 million dollars.

Over the last two years, values dropped by almost 50 percent.

"When the price falls, production falls, value falls," Woods said. "We anticipate another drop."

Woods commends county leaders for using the windfall wisely, but is concerned if the anticipated mineral production values continue to drop, a tough decision lies ahead.

"And with another drop, then the county will be faced with either reducing the budget or raising the tax rate," Woods said.

Woods points out despite the decline, values are still higher than what they were a decade ago and they still benefit East Texas.

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