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West Texas oil boom threatens recovery in Canadian oilpatch

West Texas oil boom threatens recovery in Canadian oilpatch

In Midland, Texas, the locals can tell you the weekly rig count as well as the price of oil.

On a once-empty lot in Midland, Texas, rumour has it that a regional grocery chain just put up a temporary taco stand to keep drilling rigs — which need to give existing buildings a 150-metre berth — at bay until a new store is ready to break ground.

Tales of eager oil companies champing at the bit to drill within city limits are told by locals with a matter-of-fact shrug and a chuckle, but for the rest of the oil world, the sight of this unassuming taco hut isn't nearly as funny.

In the last year alone, Big Oil has spent more than $25 billion US on deals in the Permian basin, an area of West Texas and New Mexico about 2½ times the size of New Brunswick. The land grab, dubbed "Permania," has put the venerable oilfields back at the centre of the petroleum universe, a spot that not long ago was happily occupied by Canada's oilsands.