By Nathan Barton
Welcome to West Texas and Southeastern New Mexico. Most folks who know the area know it as the Permian Basin, named for a geological formation identified as being the same as the original Perm area in Russia. And “basin” as basically being a huge bowl filled with black gold – petroleum. West Texas intermediate, specifically, as well as natural gas, ranging from sweet (few contaminants) to sour (filled with nasty stuff you don’t want in people’s houses).
My family has been familiar with, and lived in, the Permian Basin since the late 1920s. My father was born there, in a city of 30,000+ people, that today has about 300 – on a day when the county fair is going on. That was back when rotary drills were the latest technology, and a well a couple hundred feet deep was a wonder. Most people still used impact drills, and the big four-legged drilling rigs that looked like extended fire lookout towers (and sometimes served that purpose, even in the desert).
Now, I know folks don’t read this column (usually) just to get tidbits about the past. There is a point to this. Just be patient.
The first time I remember going to the oil field with my grandfather, I was five or six, and he drove out to the “lease” which was part of the Penwell Field, west of Odessa. He had drilled some of the wells in the area, starting in the early 1930s, and everyone said that the wells might keep producing for twenty years or so. But this was the early 1960s, and they were still pumping oil and collecting natural gas. My grandfather explained “secondary recovery,” where you pumped water down to collect and bring the oil and gas back up, separating it at the surface, and then pumping it down again. It had extended the life of the wells and that field, an additional 15 or 20 years.
But that was fifty+ years ago. Yet at least twice in my lifetime, the Permian Basin (and other major “fossil fuels” areas in Texas and New Mexico have had booms in which both old wells were again producing and new wells being drilled, as more and more oil and gas was brought to the surface. Sometimes this was because of better technology: secondary and then tertiary recovery techniques followed by enhanced recovery methods. Others have been discovery of oil and gas in places that petroleum geologists never suspected they could be found. Places that traditional understanding of historical geology and petroleum geology (rock formations and structures) that were “impossible.”
Why have I just spent 400+ words talking about “ancient” history? Because it appears that another boom in this era (and area) of supposed “Peak Oil” and “non-renewable resources” and “environmental destruction” (especially global warming) is starting. In an interview on The Blaze we are told that multiple billions of dollars of investment over the next decade will allow oil and gas to be produced in the Permian Basin for another four decades, retaining its dominance over American oil and gas production, and with the conversion to liquified natural gas (LNG), exporting American energy to the world.
How awful, you must be gasping! No wonder God punished Texas with Harvey, these idiots want the sealevel to rise not by inches but by feet, and so soon that “differently-abled” Americans will not be able to outrun it. And of course, because all these wealthy oil and gas people will of course continue to bribe all the politicians in Austin and Santa Fe and DC to support ever more fascism.
Except that I don’t hear a single word from the liberals and Tranzis, or from the government, about this horrible situation. It is as if they are pretending that the danger (in their eyes, at least) doesn’t exist. I don’t even hear a single call for nationalization of Texan (and New Mexican) oil and gas from Bernie Sanders, even. I don’t even hear Rep. Hank Johnson worry about draining all that oil and gas out will cause a huge hole to appear in West Texas and New Mexico, as those vast caverns in which the oil and gas is stored empty out and the surface subsides – no doubt to be filled up with water draining from Houston after the next big hurricane.
And obviously the government isn’t fighting greenhouse gas emissions by banning further extraction of this “non-renewable” mineral energy. It isn’t even creating bogus national monuments to prevent it. Falling down on the job.
But for millions of us who depend on energy that comes out of the ground, West Texas is again a blessing.