Oil production booming in Texas city

Oil production in Three Rivers skyrockets to nearly 1 million barrels a day

By Bill Spencer - Investigative Reporter

THREE RIVERS, Texas - It's Good Friday in Three Rivers, Texas -- once a sleepy little town known for its wildflowers, its fishing and its hunting. Now, it has become a gold mine.

"I'm making more money than I ever have in my life," said Richard Dockery, a real estate broker from Three Rivers.

Dockery, once a small town real estate appraiser and broker, now routinely collects six-figure checks from his mailbox.

"It's what I call mailbox money, Bill," Dockery said, talking about the money he gets for leasing his land to different companies in the oil business.

It's all due to the Eagle Ford Shale, a boomerang-shaped oil formation 4,000 feet underground, stretching 400 miles along the South Texas Border, which runs right by Three Rivers.

There, oil production has skyrocketed from 340 barrels a day in 2009 to nearly 1 million barrels a day now.

Oil production rose 600 percent at one point.

All of that oil has pumped 47,000 new, full-time jobs into the area around the shale and brought in more than $250 million in local tax revenue. The boom has helped the U.S. become the largest oil producing country in the world, overtaking Saudi Arabia early this year.

Huge tax revenues just bought the kids who attend Three Rivers Junior-Senior High School, a brand new school with a price tag of $11 million.

The school includes a $1.2 million state-of-the-art football stadium with the same artificial surface they have at the University of Texas.

"If you don't work here, it's because you don't want to work," said Ray Smith, a construction worker who moved to Three Rivers to help build some of the eight brand new hotels popping up in the area.

Oil field workers with little experience are said to be making $75,000 a year.

"Just a walk-on deck hand is making up to $24 an hour, and if you got real experience that's $60,000 to $70,000 you can make," Smith said.

"Pizza parlors are hiring drivers to deliver pizza. I said pizza for $14 an hour. It's crazy," said Doug Kaz, the owner of Sunset Liquor.

Kaz and his wife used to own a profitable restaurant, but had to shut it down because Kaz said they couldn't afford to hire waiters and waitresses at more than $10 an hour.

Even water is bringing people big money because water is so vital to oil field fracking. In fact one well can use between 3 and 7 million gallons of water in the fracking process.

So how can you get in on the riches being made?

Dockery, who admits he is now a millionaire, said the smartest play right now is to open some kind of service business.

"People down here need services, dry cleaners, restaurants, grocery stores, boutiques," he said.

With all this new money, people in Three Rivers now need somewhere to spend it.

Copyright 2014 by Click2Houston.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.