Does San Antonio or Dallas Make More Sense For the Potential Tesla Battery Factory?

Snagging the Tesla Gigafactory battery plant would be one of the biggest economic development coups for whichever state ends up landing the prize. The $5 billion factory to build batteries for the electric car manufacturer is expected to employ some 6,500 people—and make the hotly-desired luxury car available to a wider range of people. 

Liquid Assets

Four years ago, things looked bleak for Houston’s Cheniere Energy. It had about $3 billion in debt, its stock price had plunged from more than $40 to less than $1 in a year’s time, and bankruptcy seemed imminent. Cheniere had made one of the biggest wrong-way bets in the history of natural gas, a commodity that is the poster child for wrong-way bets.

Shaken and Stirred

The point of the January 13 town hall meeting was to organize the locals. And since the locale was a smallish town in Texas—Azle, population roughly 11,000, just far enough from Fort Worth that it doesn’t quite feel like a suburb—that meant the first task, for the handful of fracking critics who led the meeting, was to gently address any reservations attendees may have had about the purpose of the gathering.

The Energy Hunter

George P. Mitchell missed by six weeks the chance to see an unmistakable example of how he changed the world. In early September, President Barack Obama pushed Congress to authorize air strikes against Syria, roiling the international community and igniting a firestorm on Capitol Hill. In the past, the mere hint that a U.S. president was considering military action in the largest oil-producing region in the world would have been enough to drive traders into a frenzy and send prices soaring.

Meanwhile, in West Texas . . .

It was around one in the afternoon on a Wednesday in August, and another bustling lunch hour at the Petroleum Club, in Midland, was under way. “I don’t come here as much as most people,” Jason Hoisager told me as he walked up the marble staircase. “Maybe twice a week.” Hoisager is a dimple-cheeked up-and-comer. He was riding the high from having recently hit a 1,200-barrel-a-day well, which, based on current prices, will make $10 million by next fall.

“Y’all Smell That? That’s the Smell of Money.”

In 1981, when my father was 26 years old, he quit his job at a chemical plant near Houston, loaded his family into the car, and moved us back to Big Spring to get rich on the boom. It was a journey similar to one his own father had made during the Depression, when he’d struck out from Georgia in a T-model Ford and headed for West Texas and the sea of oil that lay beneath it. My grandfather found work as a roughneck and derrick man and started his family in a shotgun house owned by Conoco.

No. 29: Rodney Lewis

Sometimes it pays to start at the bottom. Rod Lewis began working for Stampede Energy in 1978 as a gauger—a tough job that required him to keep oil and gas wells running—and in the early eighties he used that experience, plus $13,000, to buy a sluggish well and jump-start its gas flow. Since that time, Lewis, now the CEO of Lewis Energy Group, has become the second-wealthiest person in San Antonio (after Charles Butt).

Nos. 22, 30, 31, and 37: Robert Bass, Edward Bass, Lee Bass, and Sid Bass

The great-uncle of brothers Sid, Ed, Robert, and Lee was the wildcatter Sid Richardson, who, the legend goes, borrowed $40 from his sister during the Depression and hit it rich in the Keystone oil field, west of Odessa. When he died, in 1959, he left a tidy sum to his sister’s son, Perry Bass, an oilman in his own right. Perry grew his inheritance into a vast fortune and groomed his four sons, who all attended Yale, to take over the family business.


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