COLLEEN DeGUZMAN | STAFF WRITER
PHARR — State legislators, local officials and energy experts participated in an energy summit here Wednesday to discuss key factors in the oil and natural gas industry powering the Texas economy.
Covering the growth of the industry in the state and its impact on the nation’s energy security, Texas Oil and Gas Association President Todd Staples recognized the impact local oil and natural gas industries have on local communities.
Among the factors Staples identified were LNG facilities, which have had a polarizing effect on public opinion regarding the impact liquefied natural gas may have on the local environment.
“The men and women of the oil and natural gas industry in the Rio Grande Valley are securing the region’s economy, environment and future,” said Staples, former state senator and Texas agriculture commissioner, at the Boggus Ford Events Center in Pharr. “Continued oil and natural gas production and LNG (liquefied natural gas) export facilities in the Valley will play an important role, not only in creating local jobs and investment, but also in anchoring our state’s position as a global energy leader.”
The event was a collaboration between TXOGA and the RGV Partnership, inviting oil and gas companies from all over the region. Keynote speakers included state Sens. Eddie Lucio Jr., and Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, Director of Institutional Relations-Mexico Jorge R. Pinon, of the University of Texas at Austin Jackson School of Geoscience; and a panel with Kurt Knight-Turcan, Enbridge vice principal of business development and Eddie Campirano, Port of Brownsville executive director and CEO.
Though representatives from across the state spoke at the summit, nearly each one focused on Texas being poised to pass Iraq and Iran as the world’s third-largest oil producer.
“Responsible, robust oil and natural gas development is key to economic and job growth in Texas,” said Lucio, of Brownsville. “The Texas oil industry has had explosive growth in the last several years. … This has positioned Texas as a dominant force in global energy markets and has made the United States a top producer of crude oil, surpassing Russia and Saudi Arabia.”
Hinojosa shared similar sentiments regarding Texas oil and gas companies, and recognizes their importance to the everyday lives of residents.
“TXOGA and its members should be proud of this accomplishment and the positive economic impact this industry has had on our region and state,” Hinojosa said. “Oil and natural gas today has made an environment where we are living longer and have a higher quality of life. Oil and natural gas today, because of their contributions, are funding our schools, are funding our roads.”
Preceding a moment of silence for George H.W. Bush, who died Nov. 30, Staples acknowledged the 41st president’s support for the oil and gas industry.
“He moved his family from Connecticut to Texas to enter the Texas oil business and he was a member of the Texas Oil and Gas Association; and we actually have his handwritten application from the 60s,” Staples said. “He recognized the importance of oil and gas, and because of individuals like him, oil and gas continues to have a profound impact on our state and our nation.”