When crude oil prices fell to $46 a barrel during the first week of March, Patrick Payton, the mayor of Midland, Texas, seemed oddly calm, almost relieved. The de facto capital of the Permian Basin, the biggest shale patch in the world, could use something of a slowdown, he figured, after breakneck growth had stretched services so thin that the police force could barely keep enough officers on the beat.
Then a couple of days passed, and the sign downtown that flashes the current oil price read— suddenly—$30. Payton could hardly take it in. “Crisis is an overused word, but it’s a crisis of shock,” he says. “We have to adjust to our new reality.”
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March 23, 2020