With recent estimates from the United States Geological Survey suggesting there are more than 46 billion barrels of oil buried in the shale formations of the Permian Basin, there’s no end to the region’s historic oil boom in sight. And while the stunning increase in oil production has been great for energy companies, it has also put an enormous strain on the area’s roads, schools, power grid and other pieces of critical infrastructure.
That’s why more than a dozen U.S. Energy companies, including Chevron, Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell, have pledged to contribute $100 million toward healthcare, education and civic infrastructure projects in the Permian Basin.
“They see the ability to make money, but they need people,” said Bobby Burns, president and CEO of the Midland Chamber of Commerce in a recent interview with NPR “To get more people to move out here, you need more schools, you need more roads, you need more infrastructure and you need more hospitals.”
The question remains, however, as to how this $100 million will be allotted to the communities of West Texas. The 17 participating energy companies have reportedly hired a company to determine how the money will be distributed, but they have yet to publish a strategy or timeline. Some local officials—including Bobby Burns of Midland, Texas – are concerned that the current contribution may not be enough to support the region’s substantial infrastructure needs.
“I don’t want to say that the $100 million is not enough, but I will tell you $100 million is not enough,” said Burns in his interview. “[It’s] just getting started.”
Hopefully, this $100 million contribution will be just the first in a series of investments that will help the communities of the Permian Basin grow in a safe, sustainable manner.