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Hydraulic fracturing may have residents of Cuero, other cities on brink of oil boom

May 26, 2011 at 12:26 a.m.
Updated May 27, 2011 at 12:27 a.m.

Joey Hall, vice president of the Eagle Ford asset team for Pioneer Natural Resources, talks to residents about the possible impacts drilling in the area could have on them. More than 200 people attended the meeting held by Pioneer on Thursday night.

CUERO - A photograph of a drilling rig appeared on the overhead projector in the crowded Cuero Municipal Park Clubhouse.

"This is a drilling rig. If you haven't seen one, and I know you have," Joey Hall, a vice president of the Eagle Ford Asset Team for Pioneer Natural Resources, grinned at the audience, "This is it."

A rumble of knowing laughter moved through the room. They know what a rig looks like.

"This is happening, and it's happening fast," Hall told the audience.

More than 200 people attended the meeting held by Pioneer Natural Resources on Thursday night. They had to cram themselves into the Cuero Municipal Park Clubhouse, and the room was packed.

Hall stood in the front of the room, reading slides off of the projector so those in the back who might not be able to see could still hear what he had to say.

Oil companies have known about the Eagle Ford Shale for years, but until recently, nobody thought they could get the oil out of it. That has all changed thanks to hydraulic fracturing, and Cuero residents and the residents of other cities and counties that the shale runs through stand on the brink of an oil boom that may significantly have an impact on how they live, Hall said.

Hall touched on everything from how hydraulic fracturing works to what other companies were drilling in the area during a presentation that lasted about an hour-and-a-half.

Hall's presentation was followed by a Q-and-A session. Those attending the meeting peppered Hall steadily with questions until he asked his fellow Pioneer representatives to come up to the front to give people a chance to ask questions one-on-one.

Hall said Pioneer makes a point of holding these town hall meetings because it's important for community members to be involved and informed as the drilling process progresses.

Many of those attending the meeting were there to get information, and a number of the questions came from landowners eager to see their mineral rights leased.

June Buchhorn listened and watched carefully throughout the presentation and asked intent questions about the impact drilling might have on her land.

"I just came out for information," Buchhorn said. "I'm a landowner, and I just wanted to find out more about it."

Sister Elizabeth Riebschlaeger, of Cuero, attended the meeting to learn out of concern for the environment.

"I'm concerned because there's a lot of environmental issues that have occurred with this kind of drilling," she said.

Hall said Pioneer plans to be continuously drilling in the area for the next 13 years, and noted that they believe the Eagle Ford play will last through the next 25 years.

Pioneer has announced plans to build three office buildings in the area, with construction already begun on an office building in Cuero, and plans for a building in Victoria and Pawnee.

Because they are going to be working with these communities for a long time, Hall said they strive to form good relationships with community members.

"It's important that we maintain an open dialogue and communicate, even when we disagree," Hall told the audience. "We can't ignore each other, or this thing will be a complete mess."

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