The Eagle Ford Shale is a major oil and gas discovery located in South Texas. It is proving to be one of the largest discoveries of oil and gas found in the United States in more than half a century. Unlike the Marcellus Shale,  which is primarily a natural gas producing shale, the Eagle Ford Shale is now producing thousands of barrels of crude oil each day. Since pipeline networks still do not reach most Eagle Ford Shale oil wells, most of the crude that they produce is picked up by crude oil trucks and taken to collection terminals where it is either put into pipelines or loaded onto rail cars.  Crude oil hauling companies are desperate for drivers and are recruiting truck drivers across the state of Texas, as well as in neighboring states.

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Above: Crude oil trucks delivering loads of oil to the Valero refinery at Three Rivers.

What You Must Have To Become A Crude Oil Truck Driver In South Texas

One of the major problems facing crude oil truck companies in South Texas is a lack of qualified applicants. Many potential truck drivers have too many moving violations to be hired or have some kind of black mark on their record, such as a felony conviction that prevents them from being hired. Most oil hauling companies in the Eagle Ford Shale will not hire truck drivers who have more than two moving violations or those with any kind of criminal background history. Crude oil truck drivers must have a class A CDL (commercial drivers license,) with a Hazmat endorsement for hauling hazardous cargo.  Also, to be hired for most Eagle Ford Shale oil hauling jobs, one must live within a certain distance of the company's truck yard.   Oil hauling companies have headquarters or truck yards located all over South Texas and applicants must be willing to relocate to one of those areas to be considered for the job. A major issue facing some crude oil truck drivers is the availability of housing for them and their families. It can be very difficult to find a rental home or apartment in South Texas right now. Perspective oil truck drivers may have to live in an RV or travel trailer until a more permanent type of living arrangement becomes available.  Despite these obstacles, crude oil haulers can make a decent salary. The salary for oil truck driver or vacuum truck driver jobs in Eagle Ford Shale ranges from around $40,000 to $60,000 per year, with bonuses offered for miles driven and the number of months one has worked for the company. Companies often pay drivers safety bonuses for safe driving, as well as offer paid vacation, health insurance and 401(k) plans for new drivers.

The Duties Of An Oil Truck Driver In The Eagle Ford Shale

The job description for crude oil hauling jobs in South Texas involves duties such as preparing and maintaining reports in a timely manner, maintaining a safe driving record, following all company safety procedures and maintaining company trucks and equipment. On a typical day a trucker may drive more than 200 miles across rough roads in South Texas, picking up and delivering oil to different locations. Truck drivers must inspect each load of oil using specialized centrifuges, chemicals and testing equipment to determine that it does not contain excessive levels of water, sediment and other contaminants. Many crude oil trucks are now equipped with GPS systems that tell the company dispatcher the location of the driver at all times. Drivers are also required to fill out daily log books and other reports as part of their duties.

The Outlook For Truck Driving Jobs In South Texas

 It appears that it will be several years before enough pipelines are built in South Texas to handle all the crude oil production coming from new wells in the area. In the meantime most of that oil will have to be hauled by crude oil truckers.  If you have a CDL with a Hazmat endorsement and are in need of a job, you may want to consider applying to companies in South Texas who are currently hiring new truck drivers. Also, in addition to oil trucker jobs, there is a need for truck drivers who deliver frac sand to new wells, as well as gravel truck drivers and heavy equipment operators.  Despite the slowdown in the overall United States economy, these are “boom times” in South Texas due to the new oil discovery. You may want to join the thousands of people have already moved to this area in search of work if you're unable to find a job where you live.