Drilling permits suggest industry is recovering

An oil well in Midland. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

The state of Texas approved almost 1,000 oil and gas drilling permits in February, as the industry responds to higher oil prices and slowly moves toward a recovery.

The Railroad Commission of Texas, the state’s oil and gas regulator, approved 991 permits last month, most of which for new wells.  That’s an improvement compared with February 2015, when the commission approved 573 drilling permits as the price of oil had fallen to $26 a barrel.

But while the number of new drilling permits issued has risen steadily since last February, total well completions for the year to date, at 1,213, are down by nearly 50 percent compared with the same period a year earlier, when there were 2,270, according to Railroad Commission data.

More than 430 of the permits issued in February were for oil and gas drilling in the Midland area, the Permian basin. That area also saw the most oil well completions.