Downtown Midland, Texas on a Sunny Day as Seen Over the Pond at Wadley Barron Park

Midland-Odessa, Texas

Informally referred to as The Petroplex, Midland-Odessa is a metropolitan area located approximately midway between Fort Worth and El Paso in the western corner of the US state of Texas. The Midland-Odessa combined statistical area comprises three counties: Ector, Midland, and Martin counties, as well as two metropolitan statistical areas: Odessa Metropolitan Statistical Area and the Midland Metropolitan Statistical Area. Although initially, the two cities experienced a bit of civic rivalry, the Midland-Odessa area, at present times, follows the motto "Two Cities, No Limits."

Geography and Climate of Midland-Odessa

West Texas Oil Field From the Sky
West Texas Oil Field From the Sky

The Midland-Odessa combined statistical area is in the Permian Basin, a sizeable petroleum-rich area along Interstate 20 Highway in the western part of Texas. This combined statistical area comprises the Martin and Midland counties in the Midland Metropolitan Statistical Area and Ector County in the Odessa Metropolitan Statistical Area. Midland is approximately 20 miles from Odessa, about 19 miles from Gardendale, and 318 miles from the state capital, Austin. Odessa is about 8 miles away from West Odessa, 15 miles from Gardendale, 35 miles from Monahans, and 336 miles from Austin. The Midland-Odessa combined statistical area covers a total area of 2,720 square miles, of which 2,713 square miles is land, and 6.6 square miles is water.

The Midland-Odessa region experiences a semi-arid climate similar to other resort cities in the American Southwest. The daytime temperatures are quite hot during summer, with the hottest month of July reaching an average high of 96°F. In winter, there are frequent cold periods followed by rapid warming. January is the coldest month, with temperature lows in the 30s. The Midland-Odessa area receives an average rainfall of 14.96 inches and experiences over 266 days of sunshine per year.

Brief History of Midland-Odessa

Pump jack pumping oil in West Texas near Midland-Odessa
Pump jack pumping oil in West Texas near Midland-Odessa.

The sibling cities of Midland and Odessa began as railroad towns along the Texas and Pacific Railway. The Midland-Odessa area gradually developed into a cattle shipping center for the state and a regional financial hub. The Permian Basin attracted plenty of investors and oilfield workers, leading to the establishment of about 36 oil companies in Midland by 1929. During World War II, the rise in demand for oil and petrochemicals helped the Midland-Odessa area to transform into the biggest inland petrochemical complex in the world. The 1980s bust led to a decline in business. However, in the late 2000s, the shale oil boom regenerated the Permian Basin as well as its economic center, the Midland-Odessa region.

Population and Economy of Midland-Odessa

City of Midland Water Tower
City of Midland Water Tower. Image credit SG Arts via Shutterstock

As per the latest US Census, the Midland-Odessa combined statistical area has a population of 340,391 inhabitants, with a median age of 31.8. The top ethnic groups in the area include White (Non-Hispanic) at 38.3%, African American at 5.3%, Native American at 1.0%, Asian at 1.8%, Pacific Islander at 0.2%, Other races at 16.8%, and two or more races at 21.1%.

The Midland-Odessa combined statistical area has a median household income of $35,117 and a median family income of $41,819. The median income of male workers is higher than that of female workers, with the males earning about $33,778, whereas the females earn about $23,013. The area’s economy is primarily driven by the petroleum industry, which is aptly supported by the other industries in the area, namely Machinery Manufacturing, Construction, Food Services, Transportation and logistics, etc. Over 30% of the area’s workforce works in energy and mining companies, while about 3.4% work in the transportation and logistics cluster.

Attractions in and Around Midland-Odessa

Odessa Meteor Crater

Small Odessa Meteor Crater in Texas.
Small Odessa Meteor Crater in Texas.

Located about nine miles southwest of Odessa, the Odessa meteor crater is one of the three impact crater sites found in the state. This meteorite crater has a diameter of 550 feet; its age is estimated to be about 63,500 years. At its lowest point, the crater is at present about 15 feet deep due to gradual infilling by soil and debris. Visitors can explore the crater from the trail and check out the nearby museum.

Monahans Sandhills State Park

A child on a sled pulls off the sandy mountains in Monahans Sandhills State Park, Texas
A child on a sled pulls off the sandy mountains in Monahans Sandhills State Park, Texas. 

This 3,840-acre state park, well-known for its 21 m high sand dunes, is in the Llano Estacado region's southern portion, close to Monahans in northwestern Texas. As part of the Permian Basin, some oil production takes place in and around the state park. Visited by thousands of tourists every year, you can enjoy many recreational activities, such as sand surfing, sand football games, sandboarding, and sand tobogganing, at Monahans Sandhills State Park.

Permian Basin Petroleum Museum

Early portable oil drilling rig on the grounds of the Permian Basin Museum in Midland, Texas.
Early portable oil drilling rig on the grounds of the Permian Basin Museum in Midland, Texas. Image credit: Plazak, via Wikimedia Commons

Located in Midland, the Permian Basin Petroleum Museum showcases exhibits related to Permian Basin’s oil and gas industry. Some of these exhibits include the technology of the petroleum industry, large oil-field machinery, the geology of the area during the Permian period, racing cars, and paintings. In addition, the museum also houses a research library and the Petroleum Hall of Fame, dedicated to more than 140 men and women who have impacted the petroleum industry of the Permian Basin.

The Permian Basin International Oil Show is the biggest inland petroleum exposition of the world, held by Odessa at the Ector County Coliseum in even-numbered years. Over the years, the Midland-Odessa metropolitan area has gained an ideal position to become an energy nexus of the region as well as the entire country.

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