Reneé Earls has lived her whole life in west Texas, and watched oil booms come and go, but she has never seen anything like the buzz of activity in the industry today. “We are a hopping spot,” she says. “If you’re not working here, that’s because you’re not looking for a job, or you are unemployable.… If you have a skill and want to work, you can name your price.” Earls is CEO of the chamber of commerce in Odessa, in the heart of the Permian basin, the shale formation stretching from west Texas into New Mexico that is the red-hot centre of the latest US oil boom. Production in the region rose by 1-million barrels a day in the year to August, contributing to a record-breaking 2.1-million barrels a day increase in US output that has made the country the world’s largest crude producer. The shale boom has not only transformed once rundown towns deep in the west Texas desert; it is increasingly reshaping the landscape of international politics. The emergence of the US as a born-again ene...

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