Oil, gas boom creating jobs in South Texas

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by ANGELA KOCHERGA / KVUE News

Bio | Email | Follow: @AKochergaBorder

kvue.com

Posted on October 4, 2012 at 10:48 PM

Updated Friday, Oct 5 at 8:39 AM

CARIZO SPRINGS, Texas -- Many Americans are having a tough time finding work. But there is one place with plenty of jobs, thanks to a huge oil and gas boom.

In South Texas, some quiet country roads are now teaming with traffic.

"It's just booming, it's all the oil. They finally figured out where it was at and now they're getting it," oil worker Kenneth Gottschald said.

The heavy equipment operator from the Houston area moved to the tiny town Carrizo Springs to work. The city is the heart of the Eagle Ford Shale, which created nearly 50,000 jobs last year.

"It's a blessing. As much work as we can get," electrician Jose Valero said.

Valero is from Eagle Pass and has skills in high demand as small towns cope with rapid growth. The opportunities also attracted a San Antonio cleaning company.

"If you're looking for a job, this is the place to be. If you want to relocate, this is the place to be," Diane Lapolow with the company said.

The oil boom is having a big impact on the little towns of this area. It's a region that stretches from parts of South Texas to parts of the border. And people there have long struggled with double digit unemployment.

"My main concern is for our communities to end up looking a lot better than they were when the first truck drove in," Director of Eagle Ford Consortium Leodoro Martinez said.

South Texas communities have banded together to create the Eagle Ford Consortium to manage explosive growth in the region.

"The shale's huge. Oh yeah. It's 400 miles long and about 60 miles wide. So it's quite a piece of territory," Martinez said.

Among the problems: roads clogged with truck traffic, overburdened utilities and a severe housing shortage that's given rise to so called "man camps" for workers.

"We have bunks. We have trailers. We stay four to five people and they furnish everything. We don't pay anything," diesel mechanic Mario Cantu said.

Oil companies pay for those expenses. Local residents say that's led to higher prices.

"It's more expensive eating out, the rent," Carrizo Springs resident Cecilia Cadena said.

But the boom has also created a bigger tax base for historically poor cities and new opportunities. One woman told KVUE her son works as a cook at an oil worker camp. The family just opened a new restaurant in their hometown serving wings and burgers to hungry workers.

"It's a very good spot to start a business," Sarah Cadena said.

The restaurant is on busy Highway 83 in the heart of the small town now in middle of a massive oil boom.

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