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Texas petroleum industry had unusual year

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Texas petroleum industry had unusual year


The petroleum industry in Texas had an unusual year in 2023: it produced more crude oil and natural gas in the state’s history, but declining exploration and production indicators could be sending a different message about the future.

The Texas Petro Index, a monthly measure of growth rates and cycles in the Texas upstream economy, fell for 11 consecutive months in 2023 from 178.3 in December 2022 to 154.4 in December 2023, which is a decline of 13.4%.

“Rising crude oil and natural gas production and still-growing industry employment were unable to offset lower prices, fewer rigs at work, and lower values of statewide production, pushing the TPI downward in 2023 after the January peak,” said Karr Ingham, Petroleum Economist for the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers, and the creator of the TPI analysis. “But Texas oil and gas producers, with extraordinary efficiency and productivity gains on full display, still managed to grow production significantly, setting new records for statewide output along the way.”

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Statewide crude oil production in Texas surpassed two billion barrels for the first time ever in 2023, and reached a record 5.62 million barrels per day in December 2023, Ingham said. Daily production, which peaked pre-COVID at 5.45 million barrels in March 2020, finally reached and exceeded that level fully three years later in March 2023. Texas annual crude oil production in 2023 outpaced the 2022 annual total by a stout 8.5%, and comprised 42.6% of U.S. annual production.

Texas natural gas production exceeded 12 trillion cubic feet (TCF) for the first time at an estimated 12.5 TCF in 2023, an increase of 7.4% over the 2022 annual total, Ingham said.  

“Surprisingly, however, these milestones were accomplished with a significant and sustained decline in the statewide rig count and fewer drilling permits issued over the course of the year,” Ingham said. “The Texas rig count climbed to its post-COVID high of 379 in January 2023, and then fell by 76 rigs to 303 in November, before adding four rigs in December. At year-end 2023 the rig count was down by nearly 18% compared to the December 2022 monthly average.”

At the same time the number of drilling permits declined by 16.5% in 2023.

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It is unusual that production would increase by such a substantial margin (8% for oil and 7% for natural gas) while the drilling permits and the rig count decline by 18% and 16%, respectively.

Additionally, all of this occurred with a workforce that is a third smaller than it was 10 years ago.

“Texas is increasingly leading the way in terms of supply growth domestically and globally, helping to meet the ever-growing demand for abundant, affordable, and reliable energy at home and around the world,” said Ingham. “For this, oil and gas operators in Texas of all shapes and sizes are worthy of thanks, not scorn, and their accomplishments in powering our economy, improving our everyday lives, and enhancing America’s energy security should be widely celebrated.”

Alex Mills is the former President of the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers



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Texas wildfire live updates: The latest on the Smokehouse Creek Fire on Thursday

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Texas wildfire live updates: The latest on the Smokehouse Creek Fire on Thursday


A fire in West Texas has been raging since Monday and has become the second-largest fire in Texas history, as of early Thursday.

The Smokehouse Creek Fire was up to approximately 850,000 acres in the Texas Panhandle region and several new fires have popped up. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has upgraded the Texas State Emergency Operations Center readiness level and allowed more resources to be deployed to the impacted areas.

Authorities by late Wednesday confirmed one person, and 83-year-old grandmother from Stinnett , had died, but warned a thorough search of the extensive damage had not yet been conducted.

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To see the latest air quality updates for parts of Texas, go to AirNow.gov

This is a developing news story. Check back for the latest updates.

Officials confirm one dead in Texas fire

USA Today confirmed through officials the death of Joyce Blankenship, an 83-year-old former substitute teacher in Hutchinson County. According to the article, Blankenship’s remains were found in her burned house

Her grandson, Lee Quesada, said he had posted in a community forum asking if anyone could try to locate her, according to the article. Quesada said deputies told his uncle on Wednesday they had found Blankenship’s remains in her burned home.

Texas Wildfire map: Where are the fires currently?

Comparison: The Smokehouse Creek Fire is so big it could cover Los Angeles

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Biggest wildfires in Texas history

According to the Texas A&M Forest Service, the East Amarillo Complex Fire in the Texas Panhandle was the largest fire. The fire started on March 3, 2006, and consumed over 907,245 acres.

The Smokehouse Creek Fire is currently the second-largest fire in Texas history. It surpassed the 1988 fire named the Big Country Fire, which scorched 366,000 acres.

See Texas Panhandle wildfire photos

Below are galleries containing images of the damage and spread of the Texas wildfires.



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Charred homes, blackened earth after Texas town revisited by destructive wildfire 10 years later

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Charred homes, blackened earth after Texas town revisited by destructive wildfire 10 years later


FRITCH, Texas. (AP) — The small town of Fritch is again picking through the rubble of a Texas wildfire, a decade after another destructive blaze burned hundreds of homes and left deep scars in the Panhandle community.

Residents in and around Fritch and other rural towns fled for safety Tuesday afternoon as high winds whipped the flames into residential areas and through cattle ranches.

Fritch Mayor Tom Ray said on Wednesday the town’s northern edge was hit by a devastating wildfire in 2014, while this week’s blaze burned mostly to the south of the town, sparing the residents who live in the heart of the community.

“I said, ‘Oh Lord, please don’t come down the middle,’” Ray said.

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The mayor estimated up to 50 homes were destroyed near Fritch, with dozens more reportedly consumed by fire in small towns throughout the Panhandle.

The cluster of blazes included a fire that grew into one of the largest in state history. An 83-year-old grandmother from the tiny town of Stinnett was the lone confirmed fatality. However, authorities have yet to make a thorough search for victims and have warned the damage to some communities is extensive.

The cause of this week’s fires is still unknown but dry, warmer than average conditions combined with high winds caused blazes that sparked to grow exponentially, prompting evacuations across a more than 100 mile (160 kilometer) stretch of small towns and cattle ranches from Fritch east into Oklahoma.

Photos showed homes throughout the area reduced to unrecognizable piles of ash and bricks with charred vehicles and blackened earth.

Cody Benge was a fire captain when a wildfire started about a block from his house on Mother’s Day in 2014 and then tore through Fritch, decimating homes.

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Benge, who now lives in Oklahoma, immediately began checking on relatives and friends in Fritch when he heard about this week’s fire.

“I immediately started praying and honestly, it brought back a lot of memories for me and the devastation that I saw,” he said. “I can only imagine what everyone is seeing now.”

Benge battled the 2014 fire for at least 48 hours before he was able to get a break. As in the current fire, a cold front eventually moved over the area and allowed firefighters to gain some control of the blaze.

On Wednesday evening, more than a dozen exhausted-looking volunteer firefighters, many caked with ash and soot, gathered at the Fritch Volunteer Fire Department in the center of town. Residents had dropped off bagged lunches, snacks and bottles of water.

“Today your Fritch Volunteer Fire Department mourns for our community and those around it,” fire officials wrote in a post on Facebook. “We are tired, we are devastated but we will not falter. We will not quit.”

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Meghan Mahurin with the Texas A&M Forest Service said they typically rely on heavy equipment to create containment lines around a wildfire, but the fire near Fritch jumped the lines in high winds.

“The wind has just been brutal on us,” she said. “At one point the wind was so high and the flames were so tall that it was just blowing across the highway.”

Lee Quesada, of Fritch, evacuated his residence Tuesday saying the fire got as close as two houses away.

“I haven’t moved so fast since I was like 20,” he said.

His attention then turned to his 83-year-old grandmother Joyce Blankenship, who lived about 21 miles (33 kilometers) away in the town of Stinnett. He posted on a Fritch Facebook community page wondering if anyone knew anything or could check on her.

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On Wednesday, he said deputies called his uncle to say they found her remains in her burned home.

“Brings tears to my eyes knowing I’ll never see her again,” Quesada said.

Whether more lives were lost as well as the extent of the damage from the fires wasn’t yet clear on Wednesday, largely because the fires continued to burn and remained uncontained, making complete assessments impossible.

“Damage assessment … is our next priority, after life safety and stopping the growth of these fires,” Nim Kidd, chief of the Texas Division of Emergency Management, said Wednesday, adding that residents should remain alert as conditions favoring fire growth could return later this week.

The Moore County Sheriff’s Office, which encompasses some of Fritch, posted on Facebook Tuesday night that deputies had helped with evacuations.

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“We have seen tragedy today and we have seen miracles,” the post said. “Today was a historic event we hope never happens again. The panhandle needs prayers.”

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Baumann reported from Bellingham, Washington. AP reporter Jeff Martin contributed from Atlanta.





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Texas Rangers coach Hector Ortiz dies at 54 after long battle with cancer

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Texas Rangers coach Hector Ortiz dies at 54 after long battle with cancer


PHOENIX (AP) — Hector Ortiz, who spent the past 18 years as a manager and coach in the Texas Rangers organization, died Wednesday after a long battle with cancer. He was 54.

The Rangers said Ortiz died at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, not far from the club’s spring training home in the suburb of Surprise.

Ortiz was a coach on the minor league player development staff the past three years after serving on the major league staff under two previous managers, Jeff Banister and Chris Woodward.

Ortiz spent four seasons as the first base coach and one each as a bullpen coach and catching coordinator. He also managed and coached in the Rangers’ minor league system and was a manager for several years in the Puerto Rican Winter League.

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The former catcher played 18 professional seasons from 1988-2005, appearing in 93 major league games with Kansas City and seven with the Rangers. Ortiz was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1988.

Ortiz’s three-year cancer battle inspired Rangers coach Bobby Wilson to design a blue hoodie with a Texas-inspired catcher’s mask and “Hector Strong” on the sleeve. Proceeds from sales have supported families dealing with cancer.

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb





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