Following a welcome by Sweetwater Mayor Greg Wortham, the first speaker of the event was introduced. Ben Shepperd, the president of the Permian Basin Petroleum Association (PBPA) discussed the opportunities and innovations within the oil and natural gas industry.

Since 1961, the PBPA has worked on the legislation and regulation issues within the industry while working cooperatively and educating others on technology along with networking opportunities.

The Permian Basin oil activity spans 53 counties which includes four counties in New Mexico. Various shales and plays are present in the area--in which Sweetwater is part of the Cline Shale on the eastern shelf--with peak production rapidly approaching.

The activity within Permian Basin provides around 17% of United States' oil production with around 140,000 active wells. With over 500 drilling rigs, three different plays (Sprayberry, Wolfcamp and Bone Springs) have increased production by 50% since 2007, with the Midland Basin boasting over 1,400 wells drilled in 2012.

Furthermore, half of the rigs in America are currently being run in Texas. Of that number, half are running in the Permian Basin, proof of the state's leadership in activity and production.

In 2011, the Permian Basin saw an average of 458 rigs; last year, the number of rigs came to an average of 430. While the number is lower, Shepperd stated that with horizontal drilling, production has increased.

Shepperd also discussed the Cline Shale, which consists of 1,628,500 acres. Counties in this play include Scurry, Fisher, Howard, Mitchell, Nolan, Glasscock, Sterling, Reagan, Irion, Tom Green and Coke.

The top acreage holders in the Cline Shale are Devon, Apache and Laredo companies. Around 30 billion barrels of oil are being projected from the Cline Shale.

As a result, questions will arise, such as economic access. Infrastructure concerns will also begin to emerge.

Currently, the top holders are optimistic with their findings. Shepperd noted that while "something will happen" through the Cline Shale, he urged industry leaders to also be cautious.

From 2010 to 2011, approved permits have risen about 44%, with another 14% increase through 2012. The most active counties at the time are Glasscock and Sterling.

Potential barriers of the industry were discussed as well, such as endangered species, federal legislation and regulations, water supply shortage, emission regulation and transportation.

While work continues between the oil industry and the Texas Parks and Wildlife to ensure safety of all animals, the use of some lands are being limited. And between the current administration and the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), federal politics could play a role.

Furthermore, water recyclers are becoming available to assist with the shortage of water, while the debate on emissions from industry equipment is a worldwide topic. But while the smaller cities within the area compete with large communities, safety issues are also a concern regarding transportation.

In the meantime, companies are working to "crack the code" of the Cline Shale, but Shepperd said that everyone will benefit from the activity when the codes are cracked. The presentation concluded with a question-and-answer session on topics discussed and the industry as a whole.

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