Oil and Gas Boom Discussed at B/CS Chamber Economic Outlook Luncheon

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COLLEGE STATION - Oil and gas drilling is big business in the Brazos Valley, raising property values and bringing high paying jobs across the state.

The Bryan / College Station Chamber of Commerce held its annual economic outlook briefing luncheon with some oil and gas experts.

Our area is benefiting from the boom.

If you look in rural areas outside Bryan-College Station it's not hard to see why Texas is at the heart of the oil and gas boom.

In the last six months 104 drilling permits have been issued in Brazos County alone.

"The Texas oil and gas industry right now is experiencing a renaissance of industry production," said Luke Legate who is with the Joint Association Oil and Natural Gas Education Initiative.

He spoke at Wednesday's event.

"Six years ago the Eagle Ford Shale was producing less than 1,000 barrels a day. Today that's well over one million barrels. Today the Eagle Ford Formation combined with the woodbine that comes up to Brazos County is driving a lot of that," he said.

Challenges include finding water for fracking and working next to growing communities but the eonomic benefits are big.

"Property valuations, sales taxes are up, restaurants are full convenience stores are full. Those are good economic indicators. Frankly the rest of the country is pretty darn jealous of Texas right now," said Legate.

Dan Hill is the Department Head of Petroleum Engineering at Texas A&M says while fracking is making the boom possible, there's no evidence it can contaminate groundwater.

"The potential for contamination would be through leaky wells and that's possible, it's not common, but it's possible. But it's not the fracturing itself that could potentially contaminate groundwater supplies," said Hill, PH.D.

The drilling and fracking is expected to continue to grow for the foreseeable future employing more than 400,000 people statewide.

"We're very lucky to be here in Texas," Legate.

The oil and gas boom is also increasing property values.

For 2014 the Brazos County Appraisal District's initial estimate showed minerals in the county were worth $1.2 billion.

Experts at the event Wednesday said the only thing that could potentially bring a halt to all this production would be a sharp drop in gas prices.