POSTED: Thursday, March 19, 2009 - 8:26pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, March 17, 2010 - 12:02pm
EAST TEXAS - We're told by experts, that within the next 50 years, oil could be extinct.
So, what's the future holds for "The Oil Biz."
Gary Ponder says, "Doing the American thing- working my butt off, pardon my French, to do what needs to be done."
Ponder is one of the thousands of East Texans who've recently lost their job in the oil industry.
He says, "The amount of jobs being lost out there is astronomical, and these are well-paying jobs. I just want to start drilling."
Unfortunately, for Gary and many others, this is only the beginning.
Experts say, drilling is diminishing.
And many more rigs will lie down.
Bill Adamson is the President of Sabine Pipe in Kilgore.
Adamson says, "You're gonna have very high unemployment in East Texas, and Texas in general."
He says, in order for oil to last, the price needs to be higher.
He tells us, there's always been talk of- no more oil.
Adamson says, "We've heard oil was going away in 20 years. We've heard that for a long time, a long time. I don't think there's anyone
who can make a prediction like that- how long it's gonna last."
Tom Mullins says, "It'll continue to be an important part of the economy, but we've learned a lesson— not to be totally dependent on it."
Mullins says, oil is a fixed resource- there is only so much of it.
He says, "We don't know if that's 15 years or 50 years. It's gonna be driven by what techniques are developed to go after that fine resource."
Techniques which include- drilling deeper wells.
For now, Mullins says, "It's important for us to get away from our dependence on natural resources. We have to be ready for that resource to go away completely."
That doesn't surprise Tylerite Deena Knox.
"Knox: I believe it. Reporter: Why? Knox: Because we are very wasteful. I think we need to go back to the 3 R's- reduce, reuse, recycle."
Others think we should shift the focus to alternative uses of energy.
Like- wind, solar and geothermal.
"Reporter: How devastating would that be for texas? Knox: Very devastating!"
Adamson says, "Without oil and natural gas, there are a lot of things you can't manufacture with wind power."
So for now, experts say, it's simple.
Oil prices need to be higher— at least 70-bucks a barrel.
Adamson says, "We could live with that very easily."
But be forewarned— they say, 70-bucks a barrel would make gas prices go up again.
But at the same time, experts say, the unemployment rate would go down.
That's good news, considering the record-breaking numbers nationwide.
Just last month, more than 6 1/2 million people were jobless.
Adamson says, "I think as you see the national economy improve, and the world economy improve, you'll see oil and gas activity increase."
"Reporter: Should people be worried? Mullins: Sure. I think people have to be concerned about the East Texas economy."
Tom Mullins says, there's good news.
Tyler City officials say, they are "in talks" with at least 6 possible, new companies that could come to the area.
One of them could bring more than 200 oil jobs to East Texas.
A new oil company in Kilgore is also opening up, bringing in at least 45 new jobs to the area.