Boom Goes Bust in West Texas

Towns bracing for tough times as oil prices tumble.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
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    The boom is over, gas prices are down and West Texas residents are worried.

    Oil and gas companies in Texas are cutting back on drilling as crude prices drop below $40 per barrel.

    The Associated Press reports the layoffs are beginning and the boom of the past few years appears to be drawing to a close.

    Midland city manager Courtney Sharp expects a drop in tax revenue next month because of slumping sales.

    Kevon Horst landed his first job in the booming West Texas oilfields when crude was selling for about $140 a barrel last summer.

    Horst and about 20 others working a rig near Canadian, about 40 miles from the Oklahoma line, were laid off recently.

    He and his girlfriend moved in with her mother. He's struggling to keep up with the $500-a-month payments on his new truck.

    Overall unemployment is still low in Texas oil towns -- 3.1 percent in Midland and 3.7 percent in Odessa, or about half the national average.

    Ben Shepperd with the Permian Basin Petroleum Association says everybody is feeling anxious about the future.

    Industry experts said that until prices climb back to $70 per barrel or so, drillers may be unable to persuade lenders to give them the financing they need.