Hydraulic Fracturing, H2S and Motel Shortages In Eagle Ford Shale

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The Eagle Ford Shale Housing and Motel Room Shortage Grows

From Three Rivers to Cotulla, TX, there is hardly a motel room to be found these days.  Oil company workers, landmen and others have snatched up reservations for  months into the future. As a recent newspaper article noted, motels are full across the Eagle Ford shale oil and gas play.  Restaurants are full and even starting to raise  prices on their menus as the Eagle Ford shale “gold rush” grows.   The home and commercial property market is heating up as well.  A man I spoke to in  Tilden, Texas, said that he has had no less than ten offers in the past two months on his rental home which is located on highway frontage.

In  Pleasanton, Jourdanton, Three Rivers, Cotulla, Carrizo Springs and other South Texas towns, Eagle Ford shale activity has caused a flurry of home leasing activity. No longer are properties sitting on the market for weeks. Rental rates for homes and commercial property are increasing across the board. Atascosa county’s jobless rate, as well as that of many counties in the Eagle Ford shale, is dropping.

Right now the hotbed of activity is in the “volatile oil window”, which is in the central part of the Eagle Ford shale play. Farther south there are still gas wells being drilled but the real local impact is happening in the central part of the Eagle Ford shale.

The Eagle Ford shale has been called the “sixth largest U.S. oil discovery in history” by geologists working for EOG Resources, one of the major players. It’s only beginning to kick off.   I wrote an article titled “Economic Impact Of The Eagle Ford Shale” on my other website, energyindustryphotos.com over a year ago. That article accurately predicted almost all of what is happening in South Texas right now. It took twelve months for them to wake up, but the major newspapers have finally realized that something major is happening in South Texas.

Media Hysteria about Hydraulic Fracturing in The Eagle Ford Shale

While there are concerns that need to be addressed, such as use of water from the Carrizo aquifer, the national media is full of  over-hyped reports warning impending air and water pollution. The practice of “fracking” has been banned in France and New York state currently has a moratorium on any shale drilling in which hydraulic fracturing is used.  It’s no wonder that oil companies have a bad reputation, just after the largest oil spill in U.S. history, but the fact is there has yet to be a confirmed report of groundwater damage in Texas due to hydraulic fracturing. It’s one of the most regulated procedures in the industry and there are literally thousands of feet of solid rock separating aquifers like the Carrizo Wilcox and the Eagle Ford shale.  What many fail to appreciate is that hydraulic fracturing has been used successfully in Texas for decades.   A recent documentary called “Gasland” has further roused public sentiment against oil and gas companies, despite the fact that according to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Department, the movie’s producer refused to listen to facts proving frac jobs were not the cause of water well contamination in Colorado. Will there be valid environmental concerns as a result of developing the Eagle Ford shale? Absolutely. Poisonous H2S or hydrogen sulfide gas,  is produced by some wells in the Eagle Ford shale and these wells will have to be fitted with flares to burn off the gas, as well as alarm systems to warn residents who live near them of a gas release.

Even where no H2S gas is present, some residents who may live next to a producing oil well, who are not getting any royalties from it, tend to file a lot of complaints and they tend to attribute everything from asthma to ulcers to it.  Oil and gas companies have seen these kind of lawsuits in the Barnett shale near Fort Worth and Dallas, where hundreds of them have been filed. Of all of those, I would venture that most were filed by folks without mineral rights who didn’t think the whiff of petroleum  they got every now and then “smelled like money” since they weren’t getting any proceeds from the well and were generally upset that it was placed on or near their property. That’s not to say there have not been some abuses by oil companies. Some shoddy oil and gas companies have treated both mineral rights owning and non-mineral owning landowners horribly in other shale plays. Surface – only owners do have rights, even if they can’t stop a well from being drilled on their land. Having a good lawyer to negotiate a surface damages contract is a very good idea.

By and large, most operators follow rules and regulations and minimize impact on a property.  What we need to see is an objective approach to reporting the development of the Eagle Ford shale, not biased hype based on someone’s opinion of the industry as influenced by incidents that happened elsewhere in the world . Here, in our backyard, sits billions of barrels of easily obtainable oil and gas. There is no danger to marine creatures, no despotic foreign dictators to deal with and billions in dollars of potential economic benefit to United States citizens.  We’re not going to be powering our cars on solar rays anytime soon and we desperately need to keep our dollars at home rather than sending them overseas to people who often hate us.

I’m not saying to drop your guard and trust everything that oil companies do, but let’s have some objective discussion that weighs both the benefits and risks of the largest domestic oil discovery in forty years.  Facts, not fear should be provided by news reporters to help residents in the Eagle Ford shale area cope with the major transformation that is occurring.  For landowners, using a qualified attorney in all transactions is imperative. The Texas Railroad Commission has a hotline numbers for residents to call with questions about Eagle Ford shale drilling. The Texas RRC’s general inquires number is (877) 228-5740  For complaints about odor or spills you can contact the Texas Commission On Environmental Quality at 888-777-3186