July 12, 2019 / 8:19 PM / a month ago

U.S. shale firms put up $16.5 mln to build West Texas charter schools

HOUSTON, July 12 (Reuters) - Twenty top U.S. energy companies agreed to contribute $16.5 million to open new schools in West Texas, where an influx of oil and gas workers have strained schools, roads and other civic services.

This is the first initiative by the Permian Strategic Partnership, a consortium of shale producers which has pledged to raise $100 million to address civic strains, a spokesman for the group said. The companies all operate in the Permian Basin, the top U.S. shale field.

Another $22 million will be donated by local foundations and philanthropists. The funds are earmarked to bring IDEA Public Schools, a national tuition-free charter school, to the region, the group said.

The Permian Strategic Partnership aims to address labor and housing shortages, school overcrowding, healthcare and traffic congestion in the Permian Basin. Its founding members are oil and gas producers and suppliers which aim to pump millions of barrels of oil and gas in coming decades.

The shale boom has lifted Permian oil production to 4.2 million barrels per day, and made the United States the world’s biggest oil producer and fifth largest exporter, according to the International Energy Agency, a group of major oil consuming nations.

The first charter school would open in August 2020. Funding for the $38.5 million project eventually will create 14 schools with seats for 10,000 students at seven sites in Midland and Odessa, Texas.

Chevron Corp, EOG Resources, Occidental Petroleum Corp Pioneer Natural Resources and Royal Dutch Shell are among the backers of the Permian Strategic Partnership. (Reporting by Jennifer Hiller; Editing by Richard Chang)

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