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The Impact of Oil and Gas

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Cushman & Wakefield executive vice chairman Tim Relyea minced no words at yesterday’s Bisnow Impact of Oil and Gas event, saying “real estate business is 100% a function of the energy business.” Our experts broke it down.

The Impact of Oil and Gas

UT Center for Energy Economics senior energy advisor Deniese Palmer-Huggins says we’re in an energy renaissance, with new sources and new technologies. (Instead of painting on ceilings, we're keeping everything in business. Take that, Michaelangelo.) “Energy independence” is being bandied about and we’re looking at exporting energy for the first time. She’s extremely bullish about natural gas (NG). She says lots of oil companies are shifting to wet plays, and she’s tracking demand increases over the next few years (including 2015 environmental law changes retiring more coal). Contrary to most experts, UT is projecting NG prices will rise.

The Impact of Oil and Gas

On the other hand, RSK [UK] Limited managing director Wayne Kelley is bearish on NG. He says it’s lagging oil by 40 years, and he thinks it’ll be limited below $6 for a long time. Dry gas is very profitable in the US, and we have an oversupply of NG, and he doesn’t believe it’s a good export. He’s projecting some major shifts in energy—he says the changes we’ve seen in the last two decades are insignificant compared to the ones we’ll see in the next two decades.

The Impact of Oil and Gas

We might not even want NG prices to rise—its low cost is pushing a US manufacturing renaissance. Our moderator TNRG prez of brokerage Mike Spears says that’s translating into increased demand for crane-served industrial buildings. Those also need larger sites than ever before because these companies (especially energy-related firms creating huge products) need more outside storage.

The Impact of Oil and Gas

Houston already has the nation’s largest manufacturing workforce, says Greater Houston Partnership chief economic development officer Bob Pertierra. That’s partially thanks to us creating 2.4 jobs for every one we lost in the recession. (Does a .4 job come with benefits?) Despite all this, many industries (including energy) are now constrained by shortage of talent. Bob says all our energy activity drives technology that has broad impacts across our economy—for example, fluid dynamics in heart valves is very similar to pipelines.

The Impact of Oil and Gas

400 attendees joined us yesterday. Tim has built aerials of what Houston will look like in three years, and It’s not just office changing the skyline. Multifamily activity is going nuts, and we’re adding hotels (thank goodness, we’ve been the worst hotel city for our size in the country, and our parents are always trying to stay at our place). Land prices are three times what they were 18 years ago. That's largely because energy activity trickles down to other industries—for example, 20 new law firms moved here recently chasing energy.

The Impact of Oil and Gas

McCord Development director John Flournoy (here with prez Ryan McCord) is proud to have FMC Technologies—named by Forbes as one of the most innovative companies in the world—in Generation Park. It broke ground last week on a subsea HQ, which will take up 70 of the 173 acres FMC purchased. McCord is developing the S. Pa District in Generation Park, providing 2M SF of amenities like hotels, child development centers, and car care. $60M of infrastructure work is under way in the project now.

The Impact of Oil and Gas

Our sponsor TNRG is developing Tomball Industrial Park, the only commercially-developed spec industrial project under way in Tomball. The firm is launching construction of all four buildings (totaling 56k SF) at once. They’ll be crane-ready, and the market is already responding—Jon Sellers says TNRG is negotiating a couple of leases and one building sale already, so he thinks everything might be spoken for by delivery.

Yesterday’s event wouldn’t have happened without EEMII Realty’s Ed McCool, who suggested the topic and arranged some of the speakers. Many thanks!

We have plenty more coverage coming tomorrow, including some challenges Houston real estate may face from energy. Stay tuned!