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A surge of activity has sprung up with the steady increase in price of WTI since the summer of 2017, most notably a 11.5% (+101 rigs) rise in rig count within the Permian Basin between June 2017 and April 2018. To support such activity, the Texas Department of Transportation, or TxDot, has allocated approximately $2 billion towards the Energy Sector in the State of Texas expanding across more than 1,400 projects from 2016-2019.

Included in the $2 billion is approximately $180 million for the District of Odessa which include popular counties such as Winkler, Ward, and Loving. Roadway projects are underway paving and widening roads, constructing new roadways, and improving the overall condition of existing lanes. Other notable counties that have already begun construction, or will be beginning soon, include Ector, Midland, Pecos, Crane, Upton, and Andrews. With these projects underway traffic does not seem likely to subside anytime soon and while activity continues to climb, one thing is for certain, the more vehicles on the road, the greater the risk for the driver.

Source: Energent Group

West Texas[1] has experienced a rise in auto accidents due to the rise in oilfield activity and the additional  in-basin frac sand mines that have sprouted within the last eight months. According to TxDot, July to August 2017 experienced a 14% increase in auto accidents compared to the previous month where auto accidents were on the decline.

Accidents in the fourth quarter of 2017 increased 17% from its predecessor and so far in 2018 reported accidents continue to climb. For the first two months of 2018 a total of 1,790 and 2,106 accidents were reported, respectively, and last month 1,868 accidents were reported, however, we believe this number to be slightly low due to a lag in reporting. The number of deaths per accident have also increased. 2Q 2017 to 4Q 2017 traffic deaths increased 36% and so far this year there have been a total 83 deaths in the District of Odessa. The first two months in 2018, on a county basis, specifically in the sand mine corridor[2], accidents are up 8% and within range of mine operations[3] accidents have increased by ~6%. The map below shows the location of the accidents compared to frac sand mines and transload facilities.

Source: Energent Group

With the several in-basin mines currently supplying frac sand, and another 6-10 expected to come online this year, along with an inadequate supply of CDL drivers to meet the expected demand growth of over 2.5 million tons per quarter over the next two years, we can expect more vehicles on the road and the number of accidents to continue to rise in the near future.

[1] West Texas counties includes Andrews, Borden, Brewster, Coke, Crane, Crockett, Crosby, Culberson, Dawson, Dickens, Ector, Edwards, Fisher, Gaines, Garza, Glasscock, Hockley, Howard, Irion, Jeff Davis, Kent, King, Loving, Lubbock, Lynn, Martin, Midland, Mitchell, Nolan, Pecos, Reagan, Reeves, Schleicher, Scurry, Sterling, Sutton, Terry, Tom Green, Upton, Val Verde, Ward, Winkler, Yoakum, Cochran, Stonewall, Terrell, and Presidio county.

[2] Includes Andrews, Winkler, and Ward counties.

[3] Counties within mine operations include Andrews, Crane, Ector, Howard, Loving, Martin, Midland, Pecos, Reeves, Upton, Ward, and Winkler.