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Some Positive Signs For Texas Oil Industry But Far From Full Recovery

The Texas Alliance of Energy Producers has released its midyear Texas Petro Index.

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Karr Ingham
Karr Ingham, petroleum economist with the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers, presents the 2016 midyear Texas Petro Index at the Houston Petroleum Club.

The Texas Petro Index measures the state of oil and gas drillers and producers and is based on several indicators, such as oil price, jobs and number of drilling permits issued.

For the 19th straight month, the index has declined.

In June, it's at the lowest it has been since August 2004 and less than half of what it was in December 2014. All indicators are down from a year ago.

But Karr Ingham, petroleum economist for the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers, is carefully optimistic. He says oil prices look much better than when they bottomed out in February.

"In response to that, we've had a little bit of improvement in the rig count. I think we've had just a little bit of improvement in the psychology among the oil community out there," he says. "Just because $45 oil looks a whole lot better than $22 or $23 oil does."

But Ingham has a warning for oil and gas producers: Don't make any production decisions based on the potential of the price per barrel continuing to rise.

"This has just been a slow, kind of torturous road, where we've always hoped and thought that the outcomes are going to come about in a much quicker fashion than it turns out that they have," he says. "And I think we're still in the middle of that malaise."

Meanwhile, job losses in the industry have slowed. But Ingham says since the total number of people employed in oil and gas in Texas peaked in December 2014, more than 100,000 jobs have been lost.

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