Sweetwater Enterprise for Economic Development (SEED), the sales tax entity that is responsible for Economic Development in Sweetwater, hosted a Cline Shale public forum for those interested in learning more about the Cline Shale Oil Play and how it affects West Texas. The forum was held on Thursday, June 27, in the Historic Sweetwater Municipal Auditorium.
Jeff Labenz-Hough, HDR Engineering of San Antonio, gave an engineering perspective of how communities and organizations need to work together to take full advantage of the boom and minimize the risks. Labenz-Hough got involved with the Eagle Ford Shale two years ago and continues to monitor its progression, along with the Bakken Shale in North Dakota. "We continue to look at these areas so that we can avoid making the same mistakes in new areas," said Labenz-Hough.
He stressed the importance of planning for what is to come in this new oil and gas play and what the community needs to do to prepare. "Every aspect of daily life is going to be impacted. Schools, police force, banks, restaurants - everything."
Labenz-Hough presented figures from the Eagle Ford and Bakken (North Dakota) Shales showing the population increase, unemployment rate and some of the issues residents face in both areas. "Start planning on every level - city, county and regional," said Labenz-Hough. "Focus on common interests and come together as a community. Don't divide."
On the issue of man camps, Labenz-Hough said, "Don't ignore the man camps - plan for them. Decide where they will be allowed to build, set design standards and rules for the inhabitants." He stressed these points especially because of the issues some residents faced in the Bakken Shale when they refused to plan for a man camp.
"This town actually put a sign up stating the workers weren't wanted or welcome. So a man camp was built right outside the city limits. It wasn't pretty."
"Everyone has a role to play," he added. "If you, as a community, don't provide everything, someone else will come in and do it to their standards, and you may not like it," Labenz-Hough stated.
Vanessa Zientek and Diane McShan, representatives from the Office of the Texas Comptroller, spoke on how the Cline Shale may impact the local tax revenues. Robert Reyes, an engineer from Halliburton, talked about the Fracking process. An overview of what has happened and is happening in oil related businesses, including services and logistics, was also presented.