Great story in the Texas Tribune about the boom and bust of the hotel business in the Eagle Ford shale.
NASA has published before-and-after photos of the area around Cotulla, Texas, in the heart of the Eagle Ford, showing the impact of oil and gas development in the region. Photos are below. Full report can be viewed here.
New federal data shows that the Energy Department expects drillers in the Permian Basin to push oil production in the shale play above 2 million barrels per day for the first time ever this November.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s monthly Drilling Productivity Report released Monday, which covers seven of the biggest shale plays in the country, projects production in the Permian to jump by 17,000 bpd this month. That increase would bring the play above the 2 million bpd mark. In December, the EIA expects the play to grow again by 11,000 bpd.
The news is filled with stories predicting the effect of falling oil prices on US production. Good news for the economy, bad news for the Texas oil and gas industry. Will the rig count fall? Will companies go into bankruptcy? Only time will tell.
The answer may depend on OPEC. OPEC countries produce about one-third of the world’s total oil each month. OPEC countries have about 80 percent of the world’s oil reserves. Predictions of OPEC’s demise are greatly exaggerated. But US production has increased to almost 9 million barrels a day, close to Saudi Arabia’s production. Texas is responsible for a big part of that increase:
Clearly the increased US production, combined with the predictable decline in demand and the slowdown of China’s and Europe’s economies, is affecting the world oil price. OPEC convenes on November 27, and pundits are guessing what it will do. On October 29, OPEC’s Secretary-General Abdalla El-Badri, cautioned calm, after a conference in London: “We don’t see really fundamental changes in the supply side or the demand side. Unfortunately everyone is panicking. The press is panicking, consumers are panicking. We really should think and see how this will develop.”
There are always nay-sayers who predict that the current boom, whatever it may be, will soon be a bust. Recently, however, some pretty prominent voices have cautioned that all of the rosy predictions about the future of the shale boom, US energy independence, and the continued growth of US oil and gas production are false – a bubble soon to burst.
One of those is J. David Hughes, a geoscientist with the Post-Carbon Institute. He spent 32 years with the Geological Survey of Canada, and coordinated an assessment of Canada’s unconventional natural gas potential. He has authored “Drill, Baby, Drill,” published last year by the Post Carbon Institute and the Energy Policy Forum. It is a pretty comprehensive review of the long-term viability of the shale plays. Some excerpts:
- “World energy consumption has more than doubled since the energy crises of the 1970s, and more than 80 percent of this is provided by fossil fuels. In the next 24 years world consumption is forecast to grow by a further 44 percent–and U.S. consumption a further seven percent–with fossil fuels continuing to provide around 80 percent of total demand.”
With increasing frequency, my landowner clients have complained about gas flaring, especially in the Eagle Ford Shale. Landowners are beginning to insist that their leases require royalty payments on flared gas. Landowners also complain of the odors and noise from gas flares.
The San Antonio Express News has recently published a four-part series, Up in Flames, on flaring in the Eagle Ford, after a year-long investigation. Among its findings:
- Since 2009, flaring and venting of natural gas in Texas has surged by 400 percent to 33 billion cubic feet in 2012. Nearly 2/3 of the gas flared in 2012 came from the Eagle Ford.
I ran across an article in the New York Times about a new publication, “The Boom,” becoming popular with oil field workers in the Eagle Ford. It’s a good read. And it’s free online. Check out the article in the August publication, “Eagle Ford Shale Takeaways.” It’s a reprint of an article from Drillinginfo, based on Drillinginfo’s analysis of several thousand wells in the Eagle Ford play. One conclusion from that article:
The very best Eagle Ford Shale operators produce 30% to 40% better than the median FOR THE SAME QUALITY OF ROCK, and they produce three times as much as operators at the low end. … The implications for mineral owners in this scenario are obvious. Massive gaps in production naturally lead to large gaps in royalty payments. A 25% royalty lease with an average operator is equivalent to an 18% royalty lease with the best operators. That same lease with the worst operators is the same as an 8% lease with the best.
Also check out Texas Eagle Ford Shale Magazine, another digital publication catering to the Eagle Ford play.
Emissions of methane from oil and gas exploration, production and transportation facilities have become a big topic in the news recently. The E&P industry touts natural gas as a more environmentally friendly fuel than coal for electric generation, reducing greenhouse gas emissions. But methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, and there is much debate over the amount of fugitive emissions from wells, pipelines, processing facilities and other industries handling the fuel.
- The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has endorsed natural gas as a “bridge fuel” to reduce greenhouse gases.
- The EPA has issued estimates of methane fugitive emissions that have been criticized as low by environmental groups.
Ceres, a nonprofit focusing on climate change, water scarcity and sustainability, has issued a report, Hydraulic Fracturing & Water Stress: Water Demand by the Numbers, a Shareholder, Lender & Operator Guide to Water Sourcing. Here are some excerpts: