Expected Oil Boom Could Be Big for Small Communities

Tue, September 11, 2018

As the price of oil has increased and stabilized, Gus Angulo said he believes offshore drilling will grow based on basic economic theory.

"More supply, more demand," said Angulo, a mechanical engineer on the Atlantic 7 Rig.

The offshore drilling rig, located in Sabine Pass and owned by Atlantic Drilling Inc., is set to head for the Gulf of Mexico in about six months. It will join approximately 70 other rigs operating in the Gulf, Angulo said.

The price of crude oil has been hovering around a relatively healthy $68 per barrel.

When prices are down, fewer companies send rigs offshore because of the smaller profit margins, he said.

Although consumers see fuel prices rise at the pump, Angulo said that for workers in the industry, "the higher, the better ... the whole economy goes up."

A boom can be felt throughout the "whole town" of Sabine Pass and the surrounding Port Arthur area, Angulo said, as more rigs mean more jobs. Angulo said the Atlantic 7 Rig would have a full-time crew of 66.

Kristi Heid, superintendent of Sabine Pass ISD, said the industry's improving fortunes help the school district and the overall "family-oriented, tight-knit" community. She noted that one natural gas liquefaction plant is already built and another is pending federal approval.

Additional growth in offshore drilling would be "great for the community," she said.

"We'll begin to see those things move in as businesses take hold and put their feet back into drilling and production platforms offshore," said Heid, a member of the Community Advisory Council Boards for Port Arthur's natural gas companies, Golden Pass LNG and Sempra LNG.

"A few years ago, the oil industry was what made the community thrive," she said. "With oil prices kind of settling down, stabilizing, I could very well see the oil industry making a comeback."