Texas has long been synonymous with the oil business, but the current boom is unlike anything the state has seen since the heydey of J.R. Ewing  "We are going to produce over 850 million barrels of crude oil in Texas in 2013," says Karr Ingham, a petroleum economist with the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers.  "That is more than any year going back to the 1980s."  The current boom began about five years ago and has been spurred by advancements in fracking technology, as well as horizontal drilling.

While mega-cities like Dallas and Houston continue to be centers for oil and gas company headquarters, the oil boom itself is happening in rural Texas.  The two biggest areas of development in the state are the Eagle Ford Shale, which stretches across South Texas, and the Permian Basin in West Texas near the Midland-Odessa area.  The rush to oil exploration in these areas has turned sleepy Texas ranch towns into thriving centers of economic growth.  "It's been a tremendous boon to those local economies in terms of employment, general spending, hotel-motel activity, restaurants," says Ingham.  But with the good comes the bad.  "Some challenges have come along with that as well," he says.  "Particularly in terms of keeping up with infrastructure and roads."

The economic impact of the oil boom statewide has been undeniable.  A report from UT-San Antonio estimated that the boom brought more than $500 million to state and local coffers in 2011 alone.  "When there are growing levels of oil and gas exploration activity, there is always without fail 100% of the time, great economic benefit that comes along with that," says Ingham.