Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Thursday, May 6, 2004
Local gas prices top $2; Basin’s rig count rising
By BRENDEN BRIGGS
Pecos residents have been greeted this week by the first two-dollar per gallon gas prices in the city’s history.
At least three stores in town were charging between $2.04.9 and $2.07.9 for premium unleaded, while the lowest price in town for regular unleaded was $1.75.9 per gallon.
Pecos’ prices are slightly above the statewide average for gasoline this week, but lower than prices in some neighboring towns. Gasoline prices for premium unleaded topped $2 a gallon over a month ago in Fort Stockton, while prices for premium also hit the $2 mark in El Paso this week.
The increases come as crude oil prices closed in on the $40 a barrel mark on Wednesday in trading. Gasoline also surged to another record high Wednesday on the New York Mercantile Exchange, as market fears of potential supply disruptions refused to fade.
Nymex light, sweet crude oil futures set for June delivery settled up 59 cents at $39.57 a barrel - the highest settlement price since Oct. 12, 1990, when oil prices ended at $39.69 a barrel just ahead of the Persian Gulf War.
June gasoline futures settled at another all-time high of $1.3125 a gallon, up 0.67 cent after touching their highest intraday level on record at $1.3190 a gallon. The Nymex gasoline contract began trading in December 1984.
While this may not be the best news for some of Pecos, the increase in at-the-pump prices has equaled an increase in the drilling industry, according to Permian Basin Petroleum Association Executive Vice President Morris Burns.
“A year and a half ago we were seeing around 130 new wells being drilled in the area,” Burns said. “Currently we are seeing over 200 new well currently being drilled. Over the last year we have seen it move steadily upward, with the number reaching the 200 mark around three months ago.”
“The new well drilling is really the pulse of the industry,” Burns said. “One drilling rig will equal about 100 jobs over the course of a year.”
“In the industry as a whole we have seen a large increase in the number of gas wells being drilled. In the nation as a whole, 80 percent of the new wells have been gas, and over 60 percent of those drilled in the basin have been gas.”
Natural gas for June delivery climbed 4.1 cents to settle at $6.310 per 1,000 cubic feet. Gas prices spiked as high as $10 per 1,000 cubic feet 3 1/2 years ago, before settling back down in the $2-$4 range.
The spike in gas prices caused a surge in drilling in Reeves County and other western sections of the Permian Basin in early 2001. As many as nine rigs were operating at that time in the county, and while rig counts haven’t been that high this year, around 4-5 rigs have generally bee operating in the area.
“We have seen some lag time as producer pay off debt from the bottoming out of the industry back in 1998-1999,” Burns said of the oil market. “Prices per barrel reached as low as eight or nine dollars per barrel. We are currently seeing prices around $33-$34 per barrel in the field.”
Burns added that the lag is due to the producers paying off much of the debt incurred during that period before loans are secured for new wells. “We had a lot of producers go out of business completely during that time. Those that didn’t ran up debt that they are paying off before exploring new well sites.”
While this does translate to good news for those in the industry, the public is facing higher prices at the pump that could hit consumers’ hard in the pocketbook.
According to the AAA website the average price per gallon for regular unleaded across the nation is at an all-time high of $1.78. This rise, it adds, is part of a trend that can trace its roots back to cutbacks made in OPEC countries in March and April. Also driving the prices are the nation’s rising demand for fuel due to the improving economy and the approaching summer driving season.
The increase has taken place over the past few years, with the final record breaking jump being seen in only the past few months, though, the website said. The averages for the past few years began their assent in 1999 when prices were around $1.15. The price steadily rose in 2000 to $1.48, then to $1.58 in 2001. From 2002 to 2003 consumers saw the average price move down to $1.41 and then back up to $1.60 last year.
Oil prices have rallied around 20 percent this year due to low inventories, strong demand from Asia, unreliable Iraqi crude supplies and record spring demand for gasoline from the U.S.
Geopolitical tensions and the depreciation of the dollar also have fueled buying, particularly from well-financed speculators.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
Early voting for local elections nears 500 mark
By ROSIE FLORES
Nearly 500 people have cast their votes early in the Town of Pecos City Council and Pecos-Barstow-Toyah school board elections, with one more week remaining in the early voting period.
“It has really slowed down, we had only eight this morning,” said early voting clerk Linda Thomas.
Thomas said that so far 315 have voted by personal appearance and they had received another 170 ballots by mail.
There were 45 voters who cast their votes early yesterday and 66 the day before, according to Thomas. Early voting for this year’s local elections ends on May 11.
“They’ll probably all come in at once on Tuesday,” said Thomas.
Early voting began last Wednesday for the May 15 local elections for the Town of Pecos City and Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD races.
Early voting runs through May 11 at the Pecos Community Center, 508 S. Oak.
The voting poll is open from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., every weekday until next Tuesday.
Elections will be held May 15 at the designated voting spots.
In the Town of Pecos City election, one challenger will face the two incumbents whose seats are up for election on the council, while the election for mayor will be uncontested. Former Town of Pecos City secretary Estella Ornelas will face incumbents Angelica Valenzuela and Michael Benavides in the council race, and incumbent Mayor Dot Stafford will be unopposed in her bid for a fifth two-year term.
Stafford was elected mayor in 1994 and then re-elected twice, before being defeated by Ray Ortega in 2000. She won the seat back from Ortega in the 2002 mayoral election.
In the Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD school board, election, there will be five persons seeking three available seats.
Incumbents Crissy Martinez, Lila Cerna and Saul “Chip” Florez are challenged by David Flores and Bubba Williams. David Flores is a former school board member and Williams retired last year as athletic director for P-B-T ISD.
The three incumbents in the Reeves County Hospital Board elections have no contenders and as a result the election will not have to be held under a state law that allows for the cancellation of uncontested elections by taxing entities in order to save money.
Incumbents, for the at-large position Leo Hung; for the Precinct 1 position Chel Flores and incumbent for the Precinct 3 position Bill Wendt will once again serve on the board.
The other election that can be canceled under state law is the Barstow City Council, where all incumbents have filed to retain their seats, without opposition.
The three places to be filled are one full term for mayor, one for council and one unexpired term. Angel Abila filed for the positions of mayor, Robert Ortega for the full two-year term and Abram Flores for the one year unexpired term.
In the Balmorhea City elections three individuals are up for re-election, including the mayor’s position, and both races will be contested. Current mayor Ruben Fuentes will be challenged by Tammy Dean Marmillion. The positions on the council are for two-year terms and those currently serving are Eddie Roman and Rosendo Galindo. The two will go against Antonio Contreras.
In the Balmorhea ISD school board race, five candidates will be seeking two available three-year term. They include incumbents Armando Mondragon and Paul Ward and challengers Susie Carrasco, Martha May and Luis Contreras.
Style Show set this Saturday
The Annual Golden Girl and Little Miss Cantaloupe Style Show will be held beginning at 2 p.m., Saturday at the Reeves County Civic Center.
Tickets are $8 and can be purchased from any Golden Girl or Little Miss Cantaloupe nominees or by calling Mary Ann Gomez at 445-7776.
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 432-445-5475, FAX 432-445-4321
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Copyright 2003 by Pecos Enterprise