Special Report: Dangers In The Oilfield
February 8, 2018
The oil and gas industry impacts nearly every person on the planet and the Permian Basin is at the center of it all.
In West Texas, the lucrative industry brings a lot to the Basin, but there are also potential dangers of life in the oilfield.
"In West Texas, it's all about the oilfield," Midland resident Jazmin Reyes said.
Pump jacks for days, rigs towering over the Permian Basin, trucks carrying loads of oilfield equipment - just another day in West Texas.
For those who live in the Permian Basin, it's their backyard and for many, their bread and butter.
"The number one money maker out here is the oil," Reyes said.
Midland County reigns supreme in oil production. A 2017 report by the Texas Railroad Commission shows the county produced nearly seven million barrels of oil in May.
When oil surges, Midland County Emergency Management Coordinator Dale Little sees so much he could write a book about it, but when he's called into the field a whole new mindset emerges.
"When you're going into the oilfield, there is a hazard, there's a big hazard. I've seen some pretty devastating accidents. We have to be prepared for everything," Little said.
It's something we don't hear too often - the dangers behind an industry almost everyone wants to get their hands on.
"Crushed, run over, fallen off rigs," Little said.
Back in October, a pipeline explosion in the county sent a man to Lubbock with extensive burns.
"To see someone get burned and in that bad of shape, those are really tough to see," Little said.
For those who have loved ones in the oilfield, it's even tougher to hear about the accidents.
"Every time that I see an accident on tv or hear about it on Facebook, it's sad. We might not hear about all the accidents, we might just hear about the major ones, but things are happening all the time and it's scary," Reyes said.
Jazmin Reyes and her boyfriend, Jonathan Baeza will be together five years in March and they have a son, 2-year-old Angel, together. Jonathan has been an electrician in the oilfield for three years and Jazmin hopes her boyfriend will soon choose another career path.
"They need to look into other possible careers because it is very dangerous and those who are worrying are their families," Reyes said.
Back in 2014, when oil sat at $100 per barrel emergency management counted a total of 29 accidents in the field.
Flash forward three years later to 2017 when business was booming and 24 accidents were reported.
Jazmin has a message for all oilfield wives, girlfriends, sisters and mothers.
"Say your prayers everyday - remind him everyday that you love him and to be careful out there because you never know what's going to happen," Reyes.
The oil and gas industry is expected to grow so much that within the next several years that 110,000 wells be drilled in the Permian Basin bringing about 30,000 people to Midland.