Oil Spill Side Effects Heading Our Way

By Cierra Putman
NewsWest 9

Concerns are escalating across the Gulf Coast as an oil spill continues to spread.

The thick, heavy oil is creeping closer to the coastline and threatening wildlife and fishing industries. But the side effects of the catastrophic event are slowly making their way to West Texas and it turns out there's both good and bad news.

As crews try to clean up British Petroleum's massive oil spill, folks in the Permian Basin are speculating on the local impact.

"You know it's good news and bad news," Kirk Edwards said. "The bad news is there were people killed and there's been a huge environmental disaster that still nobody knows how to take control over right now. But for us in West Texas, it's probably good news."

Edwards is former president of the Permian Basin Petroleum Association.

He says with thousands of barrels of crude off the market, local oil companies will have a lot more to do.

"The gulf wells come in as you heard 5,000 barrels a day when we may come out about 100 barrels a day out here," Edwards said. "So, we have to drill 50 wells to everyone they drill. So, if they quit drilling in the gulf or slow it down some, they're going to have to find that oil somewhere and this is a great place for that to happen."

But it's not good news for everyone.

Local restaurants say they're keeping their eye on pump prices. They fear if gas and diesel goes up too much they could loose some serious dough.

"Truck drivers have to drive a long way to get here," Cattle Baron Asst. Manager, Clint Kjenstad said. "That one year when gas prices were really high, they had a lot of fuel charges added on to my delivery so that's what I'm hoping not for."

On top of seeing more charges on produce and other food items, restaurants expect a spike in shrimp and seafood costs, not to mention a shortage now that the Gulf's supply is off limits.

"Some of them told me they're already working out a menu to bring up the price already," Kjenstad said. "Just to prepare so if there is they're already ahead of the game. One is just going to play it by ear and wait for the day when cases of shrimp are a lot more."

While the oil spill may hit everyone's pocketbook in some form or another, there's still a bright side.

"Here in West Texas it's good news when you're putting more people out to work," Edwards said. "With the employment rate as high as it is across the rest of the country, it's always good news when you're putting more people out to work and the tax dollars help our local communities too."