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New wells going up in Bee County following rising oil, gas prices

Bee County Commissioner Dennis DeWitt said that oil drilling sites are beginning to pop up around Bee County since the price of oil has skyrocketed.

BEEVILLE, Texas — Every day we're seeing a big jump at the pump. The price of gas has gone up nearly 20 cents in the Coastal Bend in recent days.

The average cost of a gallon of gas is $3.93. That's still below national average. Gas prices here in South Texas range from $3.79 at the cheapest to $4.09, which is the most you'll pay per gallon in Corpus Christi as of Wednesday afternoon.

The Houston-based company Nabors owns the largest land drilling fleet in the world with hundreds of rigs in over 20 countries. Bee County Commissioner Dennis DeWitt said this is just one of a number of oil drilling sites that have popped up in northern Bee County since the price for a barrel of oil shot through the roof.

"We are in the process now of a mini-lease boom if you will here in Bee County," DeWitt said. "We're looking forward to it. We have Eagle Ford wells going in near Pawnee. I was up there a few days ago. There were five of them drilling."

DeWitt also pointed out that Conoco just drilled a well and others are busy doing the same thing. In 2019 and 2020, Bee County received about $2.9 million in taxes from drilling activity. Last year that total dipped to $2.3 million. DeWitt said if the price per barrel continues to stay above $100 this year, then he expects the County mineral and oil revenues to shoot up as well.

"If it holds above $100, I look for probably about a 30% increase, 20%-30% increase, in the amount of ad valorem taxes coming to Bee County," DeWitt said. "And that will help all the taxpayers because we possibly may be able to lower our tax rate."

Jason Smith is an oil field truck driver. He is cautiously optimistic about the prospects of another oil boom.

"I'm hoping so, but it's the oil field. It's always up and down. You never know," Smith said. 

Lunchtime at the Pawnee Pitstop brings in crowds of oilfield workers. Many stop in to grab a hamburger and fries. General Manager Andreas Coronado said things have really picked up there lately.

"For the business it's been really good. It's picked up a lot for us. A lot of us have gotten more hours because of it. There's a lot of pros and cons to it," Coronado said. "Cons being messed up roads, but the positive is there's more business and more hours for us."

DeWitt said he's heard that even more companies are talking about coming to northern Bee County and drilling for oil and gas. So the County may indeed see more tax dollars rolling in along with some of those high paying oilfield jobs.

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