Officials optimistic despite oil, gas industry pullout in ETX - | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Officials optimistic despite oil, gas industry pullout in ETX


The East Texas economy has been spared the worst of a national recession propped up by an oil & gas boom. Now, some think it could go bust.

For the most part, the oil and gas industry is pulling out of East Texas and headed to South Texas for exploration.

The big rigs on the East Texas horizon may have gone away, but the optimism remains.

"It's a lull right now because of the gas industry. The gas prices have gone down, but it will come back. It's a roller coaster and for those of us that have been in the business for along time, we ride the roller coaster. We're good," said businessman Steve Folks.

David Koonce, president of General Shelters in Center builds portable offices and living quarters for oil and gas field workers. He's prepared to follow the work.

"I'm concerned, but I understand with the natural gas prices and the lack of infrastructure to market that right now, I understand the reason for them going to where the oil is," said Koonce.

Panola College Petroleum Technical Training centers can only believe what they hear as it prepares students for the up and down industry.

"The drilling has pretty much slowed down in East Texas," said Dr. Joe Shannon, Panola College Vice President of Instruction. "[They] moved into South Texas, but Chesapeake and all the companies tell us they're not going any where. They'll be back."

Each year, 200 plus students pursue a 2 year associates degree in petroleum technology at training facilities in Carthage, Center and now Nacogdoches.

"Students have been really successful in landing jobs with Chevron, Chesapeake, and Anadarko and those companies ranging any where from $40,000 to $80,000 with a two year degree," said Shannon.

The oil and gas worker at any level must be prepared to go any where in the state, nation or world for work.

If predictions are correct, the industry will eventually circle back to East Texas.

Leasing is now underway, so mineral owners are advised to do their homework before signing any deals.

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