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Eagle Ford Shale drilling to have impact on Crossroads for years to come

By ALLISON MILES
June 8, 2011 at 1:08 a.m.


DID YOU KNOW ... ?

A common misnomer regarding the Eagle Ford Shale drilling is that the companies' practices are new, said J.D. "Joey" Hall, vice president of Pioneer Natural Resources' Eagle Ford Asset Team. Actually, many practices, such as the horizontal drilling, are things the industry has done for years.

During horizontal drilling, companies drill vertically into the ground and then drill out horizontally, he explained. From there, they perforate the pipe and pump in water and sand, which makes miniscule fractures in the reservoir. The sand keeps the fractures from closing and the fractures mean more hydrocarbon is available for removal.

The Crossroads' Eagle Ford Shale drilling projects have already had an impact on the region, but the effects will continue far into the future, said an oil company representative.

"Over the last several years, shale gas really hit the U.S. markets by storm," said J.D. "Joey" Hall, vice president of Pioneer Natural Resources' Eagle Ford Asset Team. "We, and other operators, have literally drilled hundreds of wells in Eagle Ford Shale."

Hall spoke to about 160 people Wednesday afternoon at the Victoria Chamber of Commerce's June luncheon inside the University of Houston-Victoria Multipurpose Room.

Although Victoria County sits outside the Eagle Ford Shale region, it, too, will feel the impacts.

Victoria already has seen 124 new Pioneer Natural Resources jobs spring up in areas such as pumping services, maintenance and support, and that number should grow to 205 positions by the year's end.

Pawnee, Cuero and Yoakum have seen 117 new jobs with Pioneer open since drilling began, he said.

Hall quoted a study by the University of Texas at San Antonio that showed Eagle Ford Shale production tripled between 2009 and 2010. He went on to say that, by 2020, the drilling will have created 68,000 full-time jobs, ringing in at about $3.2 billion in salaries.

"This is definitely a needle-mover in South Texas," he said.

During a question-and-answer session, Victoria Realtor LuAnn O'Connor asked Hall whether the amount of product extracted from wells will decrease as the process goes on.

It will, he said. The amount pumped out decreases significantly, but the wells are expected to last for 20 to 25 years.

Omar Rachid, physician recruiter for Citizens Medical Center, asked about environmental concerns, such as contaminated surface water and radioactivity, associated with other similar drilling projects.

The local environment is different, Hall said, adding that he didn't believe any such contamination had taken place in Texas. Pioneer still takes measures to keep the environment safe, however.

Austin resident Jeannine McGuill said she attended the Wednesday luncheon because she was interested in Eagle Ford Shale activity for personal and business reasons.

She works as a sales manager with Kimball Office for this region, she said, and grew up in Beeville, so it's good to keep track of things that happen in the Crossroads.

"I liked the presentation," she said. "And I liked that they had an actual player in the Eagle Ford activity doing the presentation."

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