Oil prices affecting local residents

Tabitha Fleming
Staff Writer

Listen to any longtime Borger resident talk and you'll hear about the "boom." Borger is known as boomtown, and it was in the early 1920s that it got that name. After oil was discovered on the 6666 Ranch, of April 1921, the rush was on and 800 wells later in 1926, Borger became known as the "World's Biggest Strike." Throughout it's history, Borger's wealth has risen and fallen with the oil industry and families have lived their lives tied to the oilfields. 
According to the United States Energy Information Association, Texas produces approximately 3.7 million barrels of oil on any given day, making it the largest oil producer in the United States.
The number of oil rigs has been falling this year, according to a report from oil field services firm Baker Hughes, and has dropped to 594 this October, down from a much higher number of 1,609 this same time last year. The decrease in rigs has had a profound impact in the Lone Star state, especially in the Permian Basin and nearby areas where production has been hit the hardest.
Jim Bob Nunley has been working in the oil and gas industry since he was 20 years old. A seasoned driller, he has seen the ebb and flow of oil production through industry changes, price rises and decreases, and hiring frenzies and layoffs. Most recently Nunley worked as a driller for Spradling Oil LP. The falling oil prices and decrease in production are hurting Borger residents like Nunley now, who got a letter from the company this week saying his employment and insurance was terminated, as the company stopped drilling for the moment.
"I miss work, that's all I did was work, I don't feel right not working," said Nunley, "I mean, I know I don't have anything coming in and I have bills to pay, you'd think there would have been severance pay or something." When talking about the oil and gas industry and the production numbers it is easy to forget that each rig represents a significant impact in the lives of not just those employed by the oil fields but families that work in virtually any business in Texas.
Borger knows all too well what sort of businesses thrive during an oil boom, the shops, the restaurants, the services, and as the price of oil drops, business owners and families start to tighten their budgets, put a little more aside, and try to hold on until the next boom comes. Until then, for folks like Jim Bob Nunley, it'll just be a matter of getting by working until they can get back to the work they really love, the oilfield.
"The oilfield is hard to explain," said Nunley, "It's a dangerous job, fast-paced, and you work to get better and faster at what you're doing every time. It's hard, honest work. It gets in your blood. There's nothing I'd rather do."