Permian shortages filled by busloads

OIL AND GAS, CONSTRUCTION

When boom times hit the oil and gas industry in 2006-07, the immigrant labor pool mushroomed in the Permian Basin in southeast New Mexico as operators scrambled to fill labor shortages.

Service companies such as Halliburton began hauling in busloads of workers from as far away as Las Vegas, Nev., said Gregg Fulfer, former Lea County commissioner and owner of the Fulfer Oil and Cattle Co. in Jal.

“If immigrants showed up with legal papers, they would go to work the same day,” Fulfer said. “In the peak of the boom, I’d say 60 percent of the industry labor pool in our area were Spanish-speaking immigrants, particularly Mexicans.”

That influx of foreign-born labor is now deeply ingrained in New Mexico’s oil patch, with immigrants occupying jobs up and down the chain, including top management, Fulfer said. And that remains true today, despite the industry bust.

“Even in the down time, immigrants still account for more than half the labor force,” Fulfer said. “Whether it’s up or down, our industry runs short on labor all the time. If immigrants are available and ready to work, they’re hired like everyone else.”

Some undocumented workers may well be in the fields, but operators carefully review paperwork before anyone gets hired, Fulfer said.

Still, while most companies and industry professionals would likely support comprehensive immigration reform, many would oppose a concerted enforcement crackdown.

“That would have a negative impact,” said Republican state Rep. Larry Scott, a career oilman who heads Lynx Petroleum Consultants in Hobbs. “We need coherent, consistent policy to deal with people here, but not mass deportations.”

New Mexico’s construction industry also depends a lot on immigrant labor, accounting for nearly 16 percent of the local workforce, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

“We do depend on a mix of immigrant and non-immigrant labor in our industry – everyone does,” said John Garcia, executive vice president of the Homebuilders Association of Central New Mexico. “That’s a fundamental part of our economy today… . We’re a blended community and we always have been. It’s just reality.”

Share Your Story

Nativo Sponsored Content

taboola desktop

MORE ARTICLES LIKE THIS

1
Topgolf property listed for $16 million
ABQnews Seeker
The property housing Topgolf's Albuquerque location ... The property housing Topgolf's Albuquerque location is on the market, with a list price of $16 million.
2
Verus Research scratches a seven-year itch — for more ...
ABQnews Seeker
With seven years of accelerated growth ... With seven years of accelerated growth under its belt, Albuquerque engineering firm Verus Research h ...
3
Direct ABQ-Hollywood flight to begin in January
ABQnews Seeker
A new daily direct flight between ... A new daily direct flight between Albuquerque and Hollywood Burbank Airport ...
4
Intel to partner with NM colleges on hiring push
ABQnews Seeker
Intel Corp. is partnering with five ... Intel Corp. is partnering with five prominent New Mexico colleges and universities on a student hiri ...
5
Plaza, restaurants, food truck hook-ups ahead for ABQ project
ABQnews Seeker
The second phase of a $24 ... The second phase of a $24 million mixed-use development on Albuquerque's West Side is slated t ...
6
X marks the spot - for hot air balloons
ABQnews Seeker
In the middle of this pandemic ... In the middle of this pandemic gloom, a much-needed splash of good news: The Albuquerque Internation ...
7
ABQ apartment project aims to serve 'outdoorsy' crowd
ABQnews Seeker
Titan Development is pumping life into ... Titan Development is pumping life into a long-dead and once undevelopable piece of land at the base ...
8
COVID-19 safety stars in NM films
ABQnews Seeker
Strict virus protocols are credited with ... Strict virus protocols are credited with helping in reboot of industry
9
ABQ housing market still hot at end of summer
ABQnews Seeker
Single-family home median sales price hit ... Single-family home median sales price hit $298K in August
10
Anderson School to kick off innovation series in ABQ
ABQnews Seeker
The University of New Mexico’s Anderson ... The University of New Mexico’s Anderson School of Management is hosting a four-part series focused on innovation and regional collaboration across different parts of ...