McMullen County Eagle Ford Shale Photos

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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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 depth map of the Eagle Ford Shale in South Texas

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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Tilden  Texas in McMullen County,  Eagle Ford shale photos  traffic turning at the McMullen County Courthouse in the early morning hours

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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 a sign advertises cheap housing in McMullen County for Eagle Ford  shale workers

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.

 oil field workers at Wheeler's Store, Tilden  Texas

Just west of Tilden Texas, a new pipeline pumping station under construction by  Plains Pipeline L.P.

Plalins  pipeline pumping station located west of Tilden Texas in McMullen County

In the early morning hours an oil tanker waits at the stop sign next to the McMullen county courthouse.

Oil truck, "Neonized" using Photoshop, at McMullen County Courthouse in Tilden.

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.

an H2S  flare burning in McMullen County Texas at night

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