• 3 minutes China has *Already* Lost the Trade War. Meantime, the U.S. Might Sanction China’s Largest Oil Company
  • 7 minutes Saudi and UAE pressure to get US support for Oil quotas is reportedly on..
  • 11 minutes China devalues currency to lower prices to address new tariffs. But doesn't help. Here is why. . . .
  • 15 minutes What is your current outlook as a day trader for WTI
  • 16 hours In The Bright Of New Administration Rules: Immigrants as Economic Contributors
  • 10 hours Will Uncle Sam Step Up and Cut Production
  • 18 mins Domino Effect: Rashida Tlaib Rejects Israel's Offer For 'Humanitarian' Visit To West Bank
  • 1 day Movie Script: Epstein Guards Suspected Of Falsifying Logs
  • 12 hours Trump vs. Xi Trade Battle, Running Commentary from Conservative Tree House
  • 15 hours Continental Resource's Hamm (Trump Buddy) wants shale to cut production.Can't compete with peers. Stock will drop in half again.
  • 1 day Significant: Boeing Delays Delivery Of Ultra-Long-Range Version Of 777X
  • 3 hours Gretta Thunbergs zero carbon voyage carbon foot print of carbon fibre manufacture
  • 8 hours NATGAS, LNG, Technology, benefits etc , cleaner global energy fuel
  • 2 days I think I might be wrong about a 2020 shakeout
  • 2 days Kremlin Says WTO's Existence Would Be In Doubt If the U.S., Others Left
  • 1 day Why Oil is Falling (including conspiracy theories and other fun stuff)
  • 51 days To be(lieve) or Not To be(lieve): U.S. Treasury Secretary Says U.S.-China Trade Deal Is 90% Done
Alt Text

The Fastest Growing Energy Producer In The World

Production growth is a key…

Alt Text

Trump, OPEC Jawbone Oil In Opposite Directions

The Saudis and President Trump…

Alt Text

Corn Industry Battered By Shocking Ethanol Decision

The administration just issued a…

Nick Cunningham

Nick Cunningham

Nick Cunningham is a freelance writer on oil and gas, renewable energy, climate change, energy policy and geopolitics. He is based in Pittsburgh, PA.

More Info

Premium Content

Cheap Oil Hits Housing In North Dakota, Texas, and Others

Low crude oil prices since the second half of 2014 have created a boon for consumers as the cost to fill up at the pump has plunged. The extra cash in the pockets of millions of motorists is often likened to an unexpected tax cut, which could help stimulate the economy.

Leaving aside the true extent of such a stimulus, which is debatable, there is a flip side to that coin. The collapse in crude oil prices is a huge blow to areas where oil extraction and associated industries are the bread and butter of the economy.

As petro-economies suffer from the bust in crude prices, the effects are showing up in the housing market.

Take North Dakota, for example, which was on the front lines of the oil boom between 2011 and 2014. In fact, North Dakota is probably the most vulnerable to a downturn in housing because of low oil prices. The economy is smaller and thus more dependent on the oil boom than other places, such as Texas. The state saw an influx of new workers over the past few years, looking for work in in the prolific Bakken Shale. A housing shortage quickly emerged, pushing up prices. With the inability to house all of the new people, rent spiked, as did hotel rates. The overflow led to a proliferation of “man camps.” Related: China’s Refiners Report Glut In Distillates

Now the boom has reversed. The state’s rig count is down to 53 as of January 13, about one-third of the level from one year ago. Drilling is quickly drying up and production is falling. "The jobs are leaving, and if an area gets depopulated, they can't take the houses with them and that's dangerous for the housing market," Ralph DeFranco, senior director of risk analytics and pricing at Arch Mortgage Insurance Company, told CNN Money.

New home sales were down by 6.3 percent in North Dakota between January and October of 2015 compared to a year earlier. Housing prices have not crashed yet, but there tends to be a bit of a lag with housing prices. JP Ackerman of HouseCanary says that it typically takes 15 to 24 months before house prices start to show the negative effects of an oil downturn.

According to Arch Mortgage, homes in North Dakota are probably 20 percent overvalued at this point. They also estimate that the state has a 46 percent chance that house prices will decline over the next two years. But that is probably understating the risk since oil prices are not expected to rebound through most of 2016. Moreover, with some permanent damage to the balance sheets of U.S. shale companies, drilling won’t spring back to life immediately upon a rebound in oil prices. Related: EIA Forecasts Miss the Mark, But Do Better Than Most

There are some other states that are also at risk of a hit to their housing markets, including Wyoming, West Virginia and Alaska. Out of those three, only Alaska is a significant oil producer, but it is in the midst of a budget crisis because of the twin threats of falling production and rock bottom prices. Alaska’s oil fields are mature, and have been in decline for years. With a massive hole blown through the state’s budget, the Governor has floated the idea of instituting an income tax, a once unthinkable idea.

The downturn in Wyoming and West Virginia has more to do with the collapse in natural gas prices, which continues to hollow out their coal industries. Coal prices have plummeted in recent years, and coal production is now at its lowest level since the Reagan administration. Shale gas production, particularly in West Virginia, partially offsets the decline, but won’t be enough to come to the state’s rescue.

Texas is another place to keep an eye on. However, Arch Mortgage says the economy there is much larger and more diversified than other states, and also better equipped to handle the downturn than it was back in the 1980s during the last oil bust. Related: Get Ready for Iran’s Oil: Sanctions Could Be Removed Next Week

But Texas won’t escape unscathed. The Dallas Fed says job growth will turn negative in a few months if oil prices don’t move back to $40 or $50 per barrel. Texas is expected to see an additional 161,200 jobs this year if oil prices move back up into that range. But while that could be the best-case scenario, it would still only amount to one-third of the jobs created in 2014. “The biggest risk to the forecast is if oil prices are in the range of $20 to $30 for much of the year,” Keith Phillips, Dallas Fed Senior Economist, said in a written statement. “Then I expect job growth to slip into negative territory as Houston gets hit much harder and greater problems emerge in the financial sector.”

After 41 consecutive months of increases in house prices in Houston, prices started to decline in third quarter of 2015. In Odessa, TX, near the Permian Basin, home sales declined by 10.6 percent between January and October 2015 compared to a year earlier.

Most Americans will still welcome low prices at the pump. But in the oil boom towns of yesterday, the slowdown is very much being felt.

Nick Cunningham of Oilprice.com

More Top Reads From Oilprice.com:




Download The Free Oilprice App Today

Back to homepage


Leave a comment

Leave a comment




Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News
Download on the App Store Get it on Google Play