Most people don’t think San Antonio as a major oil and gas hub, but a gathering of energy professionals and their supporters on Tuesday focused on all the ways the industry affects the region. 

Energy business leaders, politicians, and chamber officials gathered at Pearl Stable for the South Texas Energy Roundup, organized by the South Texas Energy and Economic Roundtable (STEER) and the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. STEER is the primary energy association representing companies working in the Eagle Ford Shale, South Texas’ richest oil and gas play. 

“The Eagle Ford continues to play a dominant role in our nation’s energy security and national security dynamic,” said Todd Staples, president of the Texas Oil and Gas Association. “There is a tremendous amount of investment and jobs that are created by the industry in this very important region of Texas.”

The latest statistics from the Railroad Commission of Texas, the state’s oil and gas regulator, show production in the Eagle Ford Shale region reached 27.6 million barrels in June 2019, the latest month such figures were available.

Texas is by far the United States’ top oil-producing state, with production in May up nearly 18 percent compared to the same month in 2018, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Speakers at the event included not only those representing oil and gas producers. U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo) gave the keynote address, introduced by Hispanic Chamber President and CEO Diane Sanchez. 

“Innovation and technology have catapulted the United States, and Texas in particular, to become global energy leaders,” Cuellar said.  “I’m proud of all that is happening in South Texas.” 

Strong oil production, especially driven by drilling in the Permian Basin of West Texas, is likely to turn the U.S. into a net energy exporter by 2020, according to EIA estimates.

That’s having ripple effects in San Antonio and other South Texas cities, especially Corpus Christi, where many government and business institutions are focusing on becoming the export hub of the Coastal Bend. 

Speakers at Tuesday’s event also included Port of Corpus Christi CEO Sean Strawbridge and Randy Hawkins, a senior vice president of crude and intermediate supply and trading at Valero Energy. Valero’s headquarters are in San Antonio, but the company has refineries in Corpus Christi and nearby Three Rivers, among other Texas locations. 

Other noteworthy speakers included Texas Railroad Commissioner Christi Craddick; Frank Almaraz, CPS Energy’s chief administrative and business development officer; Hispanic Chamber chair John Agather; University of Texas at San Antonio professor Thomas Tunstall; and Paul Cosper, vice president of commercial engine sales for San Antonio heavy equipment provider HOLT CAT. 
To highlight their industry’s economic contribution to the region, organizers pointed to a 2017 UTSA study that examined the economic impact of drilling in the Eagle Ford Shale. It found that for the 21 counties directly or indirectly involved in production, the industry’s total economic impact added up to $253 billion from 2014 to 2016. 

“The Texas oil and natural gas industry is firing on all cylinders, meeting our energy needs and producing feedstocks that are driving manufacturing and industrial job growth across the state,” STEER Acting President Chris Ashcraft said.

Brendan Gibbons is a former senior reporter at the San Antonio Report. He is an environmental journalist for Oil & Gas Watch.