Oil production in Texas jumped by more than 22% in February compared to the same time last year, helping push the state into what the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers called “unchartered territory.” Output combined with higher wellhead prices and revised statewide employment numbers led to another record Texas Petro Index (TPI)—300.6, the alliance reported April 15. The TPI is a composite index based on several upstream economic indicators, which include production volumes, prices, rig counts, completions, drilling permits and employment. February marked the first time the index has surpassed 300. “The value of oil and gas produced in Texas during February increased by more than $2.85 billion in the past year to about $10.63 billion,” Karr Ingham, the economist who created the TPI, said in a news release revealing the latest index. He added that producers in Texas recovered the highest number of barrels per day since 1980—about 2.75 MMbbl/d of crude oil. The shale-driven oil boom continues, and these figures show that Texas’ oil and gas industry remains a powerhouse in the nation when it comes to oil production. And the jobs sector, among others, is reaping the rewards as new workers are hired at an “impressive pace.” “In 2012, workforce commissioners revised total upstream payroll employment upward by about 3,200 jobs to more than 270,000 jobs, which reflected a growth rate of 10.2% at year-end compared to year-end 2011,” Ingham said. “In 2013, another 10,000 jobs were added to upstream oil and gas [companies’] payrolls, and that job growth has escalated in early 2014. “At year-end 2013, the year-over-year rate of industry employment growth was about 3.7%; in February, the year-over-year rate of industry employment growth was nearly 5%, with about 13,400 jobs added over the last 12 months,” he continued. “Since the industry downturn in 2009, about 103,000 jobs have been added to upstream oil and gas company payrolls.” Considering that shale production typically drops faster than conventional production, it’s good to enjoy the flow of good news while it lasts. Maintaining the current pace of drilling could pose problems as companies seek to drill profitable oil wells. Falling gas prices, for example, caused producers to shift focus from gas to oil, although gas prices have started to climb. Figures released this month showed gas production increased by a mere 1% to 17.5 Bcm (625 Bcf) in February 2014 compared to February 2013. But gas prices saw a big increase in February compared to last February, rising 55.6% to an average of $5.04/Mcf, according to the release. The value of gas produced in the state jumped 57.3% to about $3.15 billion. Other highlights from the TPI indicators, according to the release, are: • The average number of active rigs, based on the Baker Hughes count, increased by 11 to 844 this February. The average rig count hit its peak of 946 in September 2008 and sank to its lowest in June 2009 at 329. • Another record was set for oil and gas industry employment in February. The number of Texans on oil and gas industry payrolls increased by about 4.9% to about 285,000 in February compared to last February. Contact the author, Velda Addison, at vaddison@hartenergy.com.