Life in the Eagle Ford as Oil Prices Plummet

Added on by Carolyn Van Houten.

When I first came to Texas, I knew almost nothing about the oil industry or the people in it.  As I filled up my tank on the move from North Carolina to Texas, I was appreciative of the lower gas prices.  I did not realize the profound effect those prices have on the thousands of people who work in the oil industry.  Oil prices have dropped from $100 a barrel last year to below $50 last week.  With that drop, Texas could lose 140,000 oil field jobs this year.  Since February, I have worked on a project that looks into how life in the Eagle Ford Shale is changing as oil prices plummet.  

Please take a moment to read Jennifer Hiller’s story.  It is absolutely beautifully written.  

Devin Meurer, a former marine, lays in bed with his dog Rocco in his apartment in Pleasanton, Texas on August 6, 2015.  Meurer is facing eviction after getting in a motorcycle accident and losing his third oil field job since December 2014.  Rocco died a few weeks later.  "Rocco was my savior," he said. "I am just trying to make it another day." “I’d rather go back to Iraq," he said.  "At least I know who’s shooting at me over there. Here, every angle something is wrong. Everyone is shooting at you.”

Devin Meurer, a former marine, lays in bed with his dog Rocco in his apartment in Pleasanton, Texas on August 6, 2015.  Meurer is facing eviction after getting in a motorcycle accident and losing his third oil field job since December 2014.  Rocco died a few weeks later.  "Rocco was my savior," he said. "I am just trying to make it another day." “I’d rather go back to Iraq," he said.  "At least I know who’s shooting at me over there. Here, every angle something is wrong. Everyone is shooting at you.”

A pump jack stands next to a picnic area outside of LaGrange, Texas on February 19, 2015. 

A pump jack stands next to a picnic area outside of LaGrange, Texas on February 19, 2015. 

The Cotulla Vaqueros watch as Breyon Deltoro, 4, of the Little Vaqueros, races back to the finish line during the goat tagging relay for children six years and under at the LaSalle County Fair and Wild Hog Cookoff in Cotulla, Texas on March 13, 2015.  Their fathers all worked in the oil fields. 

The Cotulla Vaqueros watch as Breyon Deltoro, 4, of the Little Vaqueros, races back to the finish line during the goat tagging relay for children six years and under at the LaSalle County Fair and Wild Hog Cookoff in Cotulla, Texas on March 13, 2015.  Their fathers all worked in the oil fields. 

Joy Tipton and her son Evan Tipton laugh as they joke about how much Evan works at the Tipton family's roadside store The Little White House in Fowlerton, Texas on August 5, 2015.  The store is along the highway between Tipton, Texas and Cotulla, Texas, and mainly serves hunters and oil field workers.  Joy Tipton said that she hears fewer oil field trucks driving by everyday and that business is dwindling.

Joy Tipton and her son Evan Tipton laugh as they joke about how much Evan works at the Tipton family's roadside store The Little White House in Fowlerton, Texas on August 5, 2015.  The store is along the highway between Tipton, Texas and Cotulla, Texas, and mainly serves hunters and oil field workers.  Joy Tipton said that she hears fewer oil field trucks driving by everyday and that business is dwindling.

Bianca Chaires, 8, holds her family's puppy Brisket as she walks down the road that winds through the Cotulla RV Park in Cotulla, Texas on March 7, 2015.  The RV park serves the oil field workers and their companies who want to have a more affordable and home-like living arrangement.  She lives in one of the trailers with her family. 

Bianca Chaires, 8, holds her family's puppy Brisket as she walks down the road that winds through the Cotulla RV Park in Cotulla, Texas on March 7, 2015.  The RV park serves the oil field workers and their companies who want to have a more affordable and home-like living arrangement.  She lives in one of the trailers with her family. 

The LaQuinta Inn and Suites looms over the backyard as children go on an Easter egg hunt at Jessie Galindo's house in Cotulla, Texas on April 5, 2015.  Her husband, father, uncle and other members of her family all work in the oil field.  "Jessie hates having the hotels around her house because now any random stranger can watch her and her kids play in the yard.  There is no privacy in this town anymore," Galindo's sister JoAnna Gonzalez said.  Towns like Cotulla that experienced great growth in the oil boom did not have zoning policies in place to deal with that growth.  

The LaQuinta Inn and Suites looms over the backyard as children go on an Easter egg hunt at Jessie Galindo's house in Cotulla, Texas on April 5, 2015.  Her husband, father, uncle and other members of her family all work in the oil field.  "Jessie hates having the hotels around her house because now any random stranger can watch her and her kids play in the yard.  There is no privacy in this town anymore," Galindo's sister JoAnna Gonzalez said.  Towns like Cotulla that experienced great growth in the oil boom did not have zoning policies in place to deal with that growth.  

Harvey Howell, center, looks at data from the mud log with Hans Helland, right, and Frank Sitterle, left, in a trailer on a rig site in Hallettsville, Texas on May 22, 2015.  The richest pockets of oil and gas in their drill site are indicated in the data on the mud log. 

Harvey Howell, center, looks at data from the mud log with Hans Helland, right, and Frank Sitterle, left, in a trailer on a rig site in Hallettsville, Texas on May 22, 2015.  The richest pockets of oil and gas in their drill site are indicated in the data on the mud log. 

Hans Helland and Harvey Howell discuss the mud log while standing next to an oil rig in Hallettsville, Texas on May 22, 2015. "We're really like the '49ers but instead of using a shovel we are digging a hole to China.  It is an adventure," Frank Sitterle, Helland and Harvey's business partner, said. 

Hans Helland and Harvey Howell discuss the mud log while standing next to an oil rig in Hallettsville, Texas on May 22, 2015. "We're really like the '49ers but instead of using a shovel we are digging a hole to China.  It is an adventure," Frank Sitterle, Helland and Harvey's business partner, said. 

Trine Tellez, who has two sons who worked in the oil field, sits for a portrait in her bedroom in Cotulla, Texas on June 19, 2015.  She said she worried when they would go to work.  "Who would take care of me if something happened to you?" she would ask. One of her sons, Ysmael "Smiley" Tellez who has since left the oil field, lives with her now and helps to take care of her.

Trine Tellez, who has two sons who worked in the oil field, sits for a portrait in her bedroom in Cotulla, Texas on June 19, 2015.  She said she worried when they would go to work.  "Who would take care of me if something happened to you?" she would ask. One of her sons, Ysmael "Smiley" Tellez who has since left the oil field, lives with her now and helps to take care of her.

Isaac Rodriguez, 10, looks back at his dad Eduardo Rodriguez as his brother Noe Rodriguez, 3, looks at his mom Jessica Rodriguez during a soccer match between Eduardo Rodriguez's friends from the oil field and El Charro Mexican Restaurant employees at the Cotulla RV Park in Cotulla, Texas on April 7, 2015. The restaurant employees won 3-0 in their weekly soccer match, which ended when the oil field group moved to Dilley, Texas for work.

Isaac Rodriguez, 10, looks back at his dad Eduardo Rodriguez as his brother Noe Rodriguez, 3, looks at his mom Jessica Rodriguez during a soccer match between Eduardo Rodriguez's friends from the oil field and El Charro Mexican Restaurant employees at the Cotulla RV Park in Cotulla, Texas on April 7, 2015. The restaurant employees won 3-0 in their weekly soccer match, which ended when the oil field group moved to Dilley, Texas for work.

Ronnie Moore and Billy Davis eat lunch at JJ's Country Store in Cotulla, Texas on August 5, 2015.  They both haul frac sand in the Eagle Ford Shale region.  "Damn near overnight we started making half of what we used to make," Moore said. "All you hear is talk.  Nobody knows what is going to happen.  I want to retire soon, but my wife doesn't want me home all the time." 

Ronnie Moore and Billy Davis eat lunch at JJ's Country Store in Cotulla, Texas on August 5, 2015.  They both haul frac sand in the Eagle Ford Shale region.  "Damn near overnight we started making half of what we used to make," Moore said. "All you hear is talk.  Nobody knows what is going to happen.  I want to retire soon, but my wife doesn't want me home all the time." 

Melissa Rios holds her daughter Marley Rios, 5, at her mother's house during an Easter barbecue with Devin Meurer, a former Marine who has gone through three oil field jobs since December 2014, on April 5, 2015 in San Antonio, Texas.  "We're broke.  We had to figure out which car had more gas to get us here because we can't afford to fill the tank," Meurer said.  

Melissa Rios holds her daughter Marley Rios, 5, at her mother's house during an Easter barbecue with Devin Meurer, a former Marine who has gone through three oil field jobs since December 2014, on April 5, 2015 in San Antonio, Texas.  "We're broke.  We had to figure out which car had more gas to get us here because we can't afford to fill the tank," Meurer said.  

Llewellyn Oil Company Supply Store stands permanently closed down in Fowlerton, Texas on August 5, 2015.

Llewellyn Oil Company Supply Store stands permanently closed down in Fowlerton, Texas on August 5, 2015.

Before dawn Tino Gaona prays in his bedroom on the morning of his youngest daughter's 24th birthday, which he is missing, in Cotulla, Texas on August 6, 2015.  "I miss a lot of birthdays and holidays, but that is how it goes," he said. He prays every morning before going to work in the oil field.  After 20 years in the oil field, he considers it very dangerous work. Of God, he said, "He's the reason I am still here, so I pray for everybody on my crew."

Before dawn Tino Gaona prays in his bedroom on the morning of his youngest daughter's 24th birthday, which he is missing, in Cotulla, Texas on August 6, 2015.  "I miss a lot of birthdays and holidays, but that is how it goes," he said. He prays every morning before going to work in the oil field.  After 20 years in the oil field, he considers it very dangerous work. Of God, he said, "He's the reason I am still here, so I pray for everybody on my crew."