Many attend Cline Shale Consortium meeting

At the inaugural meeting of the Cline Shale Consortium, speakers gave presentations at McMurry University.The Cline Shale Consortium is a voluntary effort being supported and launched by the Workforce Solutions Boards in the Concho Valley, West Central and Permian Basin regions. The Cline Shale Consortium is a broad cross-section of community members and stakeholders interested in collaborating and partnering to address the community and economic realities resulting from the exploration and activities in the Cline Shale region. Membership is open to any individual interested in collaborating to positively address the issues and challenges in the Cline Shale region and adjacent areas. Some Consortium activities will be funded through a special oil and gas sector initiative of the Texas Workforce Commission, support from local economic development organizations, chambers of commerce, educational entities, business or local government. The projected community and economic impact of the Cline Shale play will dramatically impact citizens, communities and economies in the region. Joint planning, coordination and problem-solving allows for sharing of knowledge and expertise as well as maximizing the use of resources. Patterned after the successful Eagle Ford Shale Consortium in South Texas, the Cline Shale Consortium will seek to establish a unified, positive identity for the region that benefits current residents, brings in new resources and attracts desirable new partners. The Consortium will serve as a forum for information-sharing among industry representatives and partners in area such as education, workforce, housing, local government and the non-profit sector. The eight community and technical colleges serving the region including Cisco College, Howard College – Big Spring, Howard College – San Angelo, Midland College, Odessa College, Ranger College, Texas State Technical College – West Texas and Western Texas College will develop coordinated workforce education and training strategies to create a pipeline of skilled workers from within the region for the oil and gas industry. The Consortium will identify common issues and challenges, work together on solutions and actively seek additional public and private resources to address those challenges. The Consortium will have a website that serves as a regional information resource, an awareness and outreach tool and a “one-stop” portal that links individuals to the vast array of services, resources and communities within the region. Initial financial support for many Consortium activities will be provided through special funding from the Texas Workforce Commission along with economic development and community partners in Abilene, Brownwood, Early, Colorado City, San Angelo, Snyder and Sweetwater. The local Workforce Solutions Boards in Concho Valley, Permian Basin and West Central Texas will provide staffing support during the first year. The Consortium will be a voluntary membership organization. Doug Ridge, Director of Employer Initiatives with the Texas Workforce Commission, gave a presentation on the impact of oil and gas on the Texas economy.Ridge gave a list of Texas' competitive advantages including natural gas, stating that the vast supply of inexpensive natural gas for fuel and chemical inputs puts Texas at an advantage and that Texas' geographic distribution of gas plays may transform many regional economies.He also pointed out that Texas has a "great business environment," saying that Texas has been the leading export state for seven years in a row and that Texas has a low tax structure and a high rate of job creation.Ridge also stated that Texas' geographic position is an advantage, being next door to the number one export partner, Mexico and that Texas is mid-way between the east and west coasts for distribution and logistics optimization.Ridge said that regional leaders must start planning now with training, transportation and housing as the population boom may be the largest in the region since World War II. Ridge stated that the increased population will strain regional healthcare, police, fire and other public resources. He also stated that new businesses will offer opportunities for employment and not just in oil in gas, but in hospitality and medical among others."There is a key role for everyone — the task is to manage the opportunity and create the region that you want, instead of the region you get," he said.Betty Sifuentes, Director of Workforce Solutions Middle Rio Grande and co-chair of the Education and Workforce Development Committee with the Eagle Ford Shale Consortium gave a presentation entitled, "Lessons from the Eagle Ford Shale."The Eagle Ford Shale is approximately 50 miles wide and 400 miles long, covering 25 counties including Maverick, Zavala, Dimmit, Webb, Frio, LaSalle, Atascosa, McMullen, Live Oak, Wilson, Karnes, Bee, Gonzales, Dewitt, Lavaca, Fayette, Bastrop, Lee, Burleson, Milam, Brazos, Robertson, Grimes, Madison and Leon.Drilling permits issued to the Texas Eagle Ford Shale have increased since 2008, going from 26 in 2008 to 94 in 2009 to 1,010 in 2012, 2,826 in 2011 and 4,143 in 2012. From January to March 2013, 1,135 drilling permits have been issued. Oil production has also increased with 2008 seeing 352 barrels per day and 2009 producing 843 barrels per day. The numbers have highly increased with 15,163 barrels per day being produced in 2010 to 127,919 in 2001, 371,174 in 2012 and from January to February 2013 467,611 barrels per day being produced.Dr. Tom Tunstall, Research Director with the University of Texas San Antonio-Institute for Economic Development also spoke and gave an overview of a Cline Shale impact study.