McMullen County Eagle Ford Shale Photos
The “oil and condensate window” or “volatile oil” area of the Eagle Ford shale, (currently the most valuable part of the play,) runs smack dab through the middle of McMullen County Texas. Some of the most intense drilling activity in McMullen County is located along and north of State Highway 72, in the core of the liquids – rich zone. Last year saw a record number of rigs running in McMullen county and 2012 is off to a good start. According to the Texas Railroad Commission, there have been more than 190 drilling permits issued in the county since January 1, 2012. (As of April 22, 2012.) Oil and gas companies drilling in McMullen County include EOG Resources, Chesapeake Energy, Swift Energy, Texon Petroleum, Aurora Resources, Petrohawk Operating Inc., Talisman Energy USA, Comstock Oil and Gas, Escondido Resources, Murphy Exploration and Production, Marathon Oil, XTO Energy and Carrizo Oil and Gas. The Eagle Ford shale lies under almost all of of the county, with the southern portion having a footprint in the “wet gas” and “dry gas” parts of the play and the central and northern part of the county lying in the “volatile oil window.” The map below shows the depth of the Eagle Ford Shale in McMullen county ranging from just over 8000 feet south of the Atascosa county line and plunging to over 14,000 near the Duval county line. Other than to hold leases on large ranches, there has not been as much activity in the “dry gas” Eagle Ford Shale play in McMullen. The Pearsall shale, Olmos sand, Edwards limestone and other productive formations also underlie much of the area. The Pearsall shale in McMullen county is located a couple thousand feet deeper than the Eagle Ford Shale and offers great potential for a large volume of natural gas production. Since natural gas prices are currently depressed, oil and gas companies are focusing on the liquids – rich portion of the Eagle Ford shale and Olmos sands. Companies such as Swift Energy and Texon Petroleum (an Australian firm,) are making some good wells in the shallower Olmos, in addition to wells in the Eagle Ford shale.
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In the first photo below, (a long exposure,) a steady stream of oilfield traffic heads west toward Tilden in the early morning hours. In the next photo you can see that most of the oilfield traffic passing the McMullen County Courthouse is turning north, heading to new wells, pipeline and construction projects in the “volatile oil” zone.
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Oilfield traffic at the intersection of SH–72 and SH–16 in the early morning hours. A hastily drawn sign advertises cheap housing for oilfield workers. Scores of RV parks have opened up in Tilden Texas, as residents attempt to cash in on the oil boom in whatever ways they can. Several new oilfield businesses have opened on the outskirts of Tilden, including Stallion Rentals. For many years the population of McMullen County hovered at around seven hundred souls, yet an influx of oilfield workers has more than tripled the population in only a few short years. The influx of new residents and increase in oilfield activity has placed strains on everything from the school system to law enforcement, EMS and area roads. Tax revenue from oil and gas activity is helping somewhat to alleviate the burden placed on county taxpayers.
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Below, Wheeler’s Store, just across from the McMullen County Courthouse in Tilden Texas, is already crowded with oilfield workers at six in the morning on a weekday.
Just west of Tilden Texas, a new pipeline pumping station under construction by Plains Pipeline L.P.
In the early morning hours an oil tanker waits at the stop sign next to the McMullen county courthouse.
An H2S flare burns brightly behind the cactus on a new Eagle Ford shale oil well in northern McMullen County. Dark and starry skies have long ruled at night over McMullen County, however many residents have noticed how there is a constant glow in the night sky from natural gas flares and large outdoor lights placed around well sites during drilling and fracking operations. The nighttime glow from this oil boom being experienced by local residents is unlikely to fade anytime soon. McMullen County is comprised of approximately 731,520 acres, with some type of oil and gas bearing rock formation underlying almost of it. With some oil and gas exploration companies examining well spacings of as low as 40 acres, there will be thousands more oil and gas wells drilled in McMullen over the next several decades.
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