"That's Oil, Folks!"

I pretty much gave up on Texas Monthly years ago, when Molly Ivins exemplified the magazine's left-staggering slant on, well, just about everything. (Plus, they were rarely charitable toward my beloved Aggies, and way too benevolent toward our arch-rival, Whose Name Shall Not Be Mentioned.) The downside of that decision, however, is that I miss out on some pretty good reporting and writing, especially in non-political arenas. Thank goodness for the interwebs.

Case in point is the September, 2010 issue with a story about the West Texas oil drilling b**m that we're now experiencing. (I'm superstitious about using the b-word.) Writer Skip Hollandsworth does an excellent job of describing how an oil play (in this case, the so-called Wolfberry) goes from theory to actuality, providing not only the technical details but also the human side of the story.

And it's that human side that really makes the article interesting, especially to those of us who have lived in Midland for years. We have personal connections with almost everyone described in the article. They're our co-workers, neighbors, fellow church members, and occupy the adjoining booths at IHOP, and Hollandsworth nails their personalities without exception. (The only quibble I have is where he describes Dennis Phelps, a former co-worker at ARCO, as having "the charisma of an accountant." I, of course, am an accountant (by education, at least), and like to think that I'm more charismatic than a petroleum engineer. I'll let you decide how charismatic that really is.)

You can read the article online at the link I've provided above, but I also recommend reading the web-only interview with the author (Made in Midland). Hollandsworth contrasts the stereotype of the Texas oilman (e.g. J.R. Ewing) with those he met in Midland, and the local guys come out winners by a long shot.

That's not to say that the players in the Midland oil scene don't have their eccentricities and foibles. I could tell you about one prominently featured character who set his clothes on fire with my welder, or another whose pet goat could frequently be found standing atop our car, but I'll save those stories for another day.

The real point is that you'd be hard-pressed to meet better people than those working the West Texas oil patch today. And, for Midland, that's pretty much everyone.


It's rare that we get to see the words accountant and charisma in the same sentence. At least someone thought of us. ;-). I take comfort in knowing I have more charisma than most actuaries I know.

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This page contains a single entry by Eric published on September 10, 2010 11:00 AM.

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