Veteran Oilman Not Concerned About Low Gas Prices

By Camaron Abundes   
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND- Gas prices dipped to the lowest levels in 18 months, according to figures provided by AAA, leaving some in the basin wondering what will it mean for the local economy.

"We would be better off in some stable environment than going from one extreme to the other," Veteran Oilman John Bell, said. "When I got in the oil business it was $2.80 a barrel. When it went up to $11 dollars everybody thought they were going to croak."
In 2008, the ups and downs have been pronounced. In July, prices peaked at a record national average of $4.14 a gallon for regular unleaded. Today prices match those seen back in early 2007.

"I think we would have been better off it never went to 140 dollars a barrel but don't get me wrong, I like the checks," Bell said.

Rumors about hiring freezes and layoffs are already circulating around the basin. NewsWest 9 contacted several major oil companies. Representatives tell us they're still hiring and still doing well but one oil insider says many contracts were worked out months ago and the real questions about the strength of the industry will come up in the coming months.

It costs Kelly Long, a Flint Hills employee $12 dollars to fill up his motorcycle. Lower gas prices just mean he won't freeze during his commute this winter.

"I can finally bring my pickup truck out of the garage," Long said.

Veterans like Bell say the economy as a whole can benefit from the lower prices but admits a down turn like this is not without it's adjustments.

"If it goes to fifty there will be some cuts but if we can figure where the balance is," Bell said.  "There's too many people who have been in this business who have been through these swings before. We've survived."