CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The oil and gas industry in Texas and right here in the Coastal Bend is preparing for a change in leadership, but with a new administration in the White House, some question what that will mean for local oil and gas jobs.
There has been some concern ever since president elect Joe Biden mentioned that he wants to transition over time to energy sources that don't pollute as much as oil does.
When you look at the state's economy, you could say Texas is oil country.
According to the Texas Oil and Gas Association, in 2019 the industry supported more than 400-thousand direct jobs.
It was certainly a hot topic during the presidential campaign and the debates.
During one of the debates, Biden said the oil industry, "has to be replaced by renewable energy over time, over time. And I'd stop giving to the oil industry. I'd stop giving them federal subsidies."
"Basically, what he is saying, is he's going to destroy the oil industry. Will you remember that, Texas?" President trump fired back.
Now, with a change in power on the horizon, Joe Biden's stance has certainly raised eyes and sparked some fear in an industry already hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Economics professor Dr. Jim Lee at Texas A&M Corpus Christi said what the industry will likely see are more regulations and added costs of oil production. He doesn't see a major loss in jobs because of the industry's ability to adapt.
"In the long run, I wouldn't say we are going to lose jobs immediately because of that, but we will feel it in our pocketbooks because in the end they are going to pass on the higher cost of extracting oil and producing oil because producing clean energy doesn't come free," said Dr. Lee.
The Port of Corpus Christi also takes on a vital role in the energy sector. It has become the 3rd largest port in the U.S. based on tonnage and the second largest exporter of crude oil.
Port chairman Charlie Zahn said he doesn't believe the presidential transition will have much if any affect at all. He said the country is too dependent on oil and gas.
"Oil and gas are not just used for transportation purposes, they're used in a lot of products that each one of us on a day-to-day basis was still going to have a need for energy," said Zahn.
"We certainly believe the Biden administration is going to have a significant focus on reducing atmospheric carbon concentrations, but when it comes to energy exports and Texas exports, we believe the Biden administration will continue with that policy," said Port of Corpus Christi CEO Sean Strawbridge.
Meanwhile, COVID-19 continues to be the biggest challenge in the industry.
"It's very difficult to survive because right now, the oil prices around the 40-dollar range, and that is the breakeven price, and a lot of companies are not making a lot of profits," said Dr. Lee.
For now, experts believe getting a handle on the pandemic will help lead to a better outlook.
There was a bit of good news recently when oil prices started trending upward after the announcement of a new COVID-19 vaccine possibly being available before the end of the year.
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