Labor shortage slowing some energy projects

Fuel Fix:
A leader of the Port of Corpus Christi says labor shortages are hampering efforts to develop energy projects, such as petrochemical plants.

Speaking to Eagle Ford Consortium, a non-profit encouraging the the development of the Eagle Ford Shale oil field, Jarl Pedersen, the chief commercial officer at the Port of Corpus Christi, said the port has seen billions of investment flow into the area around Corpus Christi.

RELATED: Exxon-SABIC plant moving forward

But he said a lack or workers shortages has hampered the ability to build new projects, pointing to a proposed $10 billion steam cracker that would process ethane, a natural gas liquid, into ethylene, the building block of most plastics, as an example of what could be possible with a larger workforce. The plant, a joint venture of Exxon Mobil and the state-owned Saudi Arabia Basic Industries Corp., is to be located in Portland, northeast of Corpus Christi.
Midland in the Permian Basin is reporting an unemployment rate of 2.1 percent.
... Midland continued to report the state’s lowest unemployment, followed by Amarillo at 2.6 percent. Odessa was knotted with Austin-Round Rock, College Station-Bryan and Lubbock for third at 2.8 percent.

Oil and gas drive the area economy, “but when I talk to people in the medical industry, people in the restaurant industry, everyone is concerned about the availability of workforce,” said Willie Taylor, chief executive officer of Workforce Solutions Permian Basin. With 2.1 percent unemployment, “There’s not much workforce available.”

People want to move to Midland to take advantage of job opportunities, but are hesitant because of high housing costs, Taylor said.

“I do worry about our ability to continue to bring people in without additional workforce housing,” he said.
Before the energy boom it was hard to give away a house in the Midland area and now there are few to find.  In the short time, they could bring in manufactured housing or recreational vehicles.   But the report demonstrates the overall strength of the Texas economy.  I was in College Station yesterday and saw large signs for businesses looking for employees. 


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