Oil Prices Tumble to New Low, Workers Facing Layoffs, Shortened Hours

Oil Prices Tumble to New Low, Workers Facing Layoffs, Shortened Hours

ODESSA, TX (KWES) - Crude oil prices dropped Wednesday to a new six-year low, ending the day at $40.80 a barrel.

Industry analysts attributed the slump to increased imports that created an excess of crude in the nation's stockpiles, upping supply and dragging down demand.

"There are many international factors involved," explained Morris Burns, a Midland-based oil consultant and former Executive Director of the Permian Basin Petroleum Association. "Between what's going on in Greece, Iran and China, this is all part of a global issue."

The local impact has been felt by thousands who rely on oil field work to feed their families.

"It's bad right now," said Daniel Castillo, an Odessa oil field pumper and father of three. "Everything's slowing down. We just had 18 people laid off."

He "feels very lucky" to have a job, he added, but misses the ample hours and overtime pay he enjoyed a year ago.

According to Burns, oil prices will recover with increased demand during the winter months, but likely won't hit triple digits again within the next year.

"I also don't see us going as low as $30 [a barrel]," he said. "But the market always overreacts. There's no reason for it to be as low as it is now, or as high as it was [when prices peaked last year]."

However, tumbling prices only tell one side of the story.

A group of pulling unit workers in Odessa said their company was largely unaffected by the latest downturn and they continued to work 13-hour days.

"Our company has its own wells, so we stay busy," Alan Lujan told NewsWest 9. "I've heard it's been real tough for other people. Some only get 40 hours a week now."

Production-related jobs are often more stable than drilling positions, Burns explained.

"The workers... that are pumping the oil out of the ground and shipping it... will always have work to do," he said. "But the drilling [sector of the industry] has really contracted."