Economic evaluation of the major hydrocarbon producing regions in Texas
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Technological advances in hydraulic fracturing and microseismic analysis coupled with horizontal wellbore drilling have allowed access to low-permeability sedimentary formations that were previously considered uneconomical to exploit. The rapid growth in domestic oil and gas extraction directly affects local communities, namely those that overlay the lucrative hydrocarbon formations. This thesis provides a holistic, regional scale analysis of the economic expansion bolstered by the recent advances made in unconventional exploration. In particular, the work focuses on Texas where upstream development has been pronounced over the past decade. First, a spatial distribution analysis was conducted in order to capture the shifts in hydrocarbon exploration throughout the state. Subsequently, the research evaluated variations in economic growth between counties that were actively engaged in the recent drilling boom and those that were not. Based on a fixed-effects regression model, I estimated that the recent boom has had a significant positive impact on local employment. Despite the positive effect on jobs, the model suggests that the influence on average wages was minimal. Additionally, economic trends of coastal counties with extensive downstream development were analyzed. This analysis highlighted a direct impact on maritime shipping trends. In order to predict potential future trends, a financial valuation study was conducted by approximating the break-even prices of different formations and comparing them to projected commodity price scenarios. Lastly, a discussion was formulated about potential policy implications and how policy can retain, stabilize, or hinder growth in hydrocarbon producing regions.