The desert city of Midland, Texas, is generally a poor barometer by which to measure booms, busts or even the passing of seasons. Year-round, the landscape alternates between the rugged chaparral brush and the 11 evergreen golf courses catering to the city. But something has caught in the air in Midland, like ragweed or discontent.

Grumbles from Uber drivers notwithstanding, it’s difficult to divine any outward sign of either good or bad times in the oil business. As it has for decades, the West Texas metropolis of 140,000 souls faithfully orbits the industry, the source of its life, regardless.

“There’s a slowdown going on in the Permian,” Pioneer Natural Resources Co. CEO Scott Sheffield told Oil and Gas Investor, “while oil majors are increasing production.”

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