Texas oil is the new gold rush: Men work 100 hours a week. Roads are a mess. Electricity can be in short supply. But “anyone with a pulse” can make $100,000. You won’t believe what’s happening in the Permian Basin.
PECOS, Texas — Welcome to the Permian Basin, six hours west of Dallas.
Compared to the last West Texas oil boom in 2014, there’s almost four times more oil flowing in the Permian Basin.
Oil and gas companies have turned this dusty, desert landscape into a heavy industrial zone. Small towns, once sleepy, are now exploding. The pace is so frantic, I want to know if Texas has the infrastructure and resources to keep this up?
It’s 5:30am, in Pecos, Texas, and I’m meeting up with Jesse Lane. He’s been working in the West Texas oil field for two years as the operations manager of Nimble Crane.
“Anything heavy that needs to be moved in the Permian Basin, we pick it up,” he tells me.
“Which is a lot of stuff out here?” I ask.
“Everything,” he says.
Most of the guys out here work 21 days with seven days off. It’s common to clock 100-hour work weeks. Workers live in pop-up trailer parks or portable motels called “man camps.”
Jesse told me I wouldn’t believe what’s going on unless I saw it for myself. So I came. We started our tour by checking out a few gas stations in town where heavy trucks are lined up to get fuel.
“So, it’s 5:45 in the morning and look at the line to get fuel. In this little town where there should be nothing going on,” Jesse says.
We’re making our way west, from Pecos to the town of Orla, deeper into the oil fields. We make a left turn onto a highway that’s jammed with oversized trucks.
“Left turn into traffic. Wrong time of day,” Jesse tells me as we wait. “Everybody right with Jesus? It’s the wild west, man,” Jesse says.
As the sun rises, traffic on the two-lane highway is completely stopped. We’re a half-mile from Orla, population 56. There’s a four-way stop in town and hundreds of heavy trucks all need to squeeze through.
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