Shale gas industry to bring jobs to Victoria, area, executive says


July 13, 2010 at 2:13 a.m.

An oil and gas executive said Tuesday that shale gas could bring at least 150 jobs to the area and is bringing an unprecedented focus on the nation's natural gas resources.

"This has been a game-changer in the last few years," Joey Hall, an executive with Pioneer Natural Resources, told business leaders during a Victoria Partnership meeting.

Pioneer Natural Resources is an oil and gas company that is drilling into the Eagle Ford Shale, a formation of hydrocarbon-bearing rock that belts South Texas.

A surge of activity, notably in DeWitt County, began in 2008, when the first gas wells were drilled in the shale. The shale is a formation of hydrocarbon-bearing rock that belts South Texas.

"You are only going to see things start to pick up because the Eagle Ford is one of the hot new plays in the industry," Hall said. The shale play joins a list of seven major rock formations in the industry, including the Barnett Shale in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Industry experts are excited about the amount of gas that can be harvested from the rock, which is done through a drilling technique called hydraulic fracturing.

Millions of gallons of water, sand and drilling fluids, including some harmful chemicals, are injected into the wells to fracture the rock. Natural gas then flows from the cracks in the rock up into the well.

"In essence, we're able to shortcut the petroleum system and go directly to the source rock," Hall said.

This process would require the employment of a fleet of 70 to 140 workers that will likely be based in Victoria, he said. Other workers will be based elsewhere in the Crossroads.

Hall's company is interested in Victoria because of its "good infrastructure and talent pool," he said.

Dale Fowler, president of the Victoria Economic Development Corporation, said Victoria could become a services hub.

The region has suffered up and down swings, coming off the latter, he said. He has read the amount of gas expected to be culled from this formation could mean that activity will be up for a long time.

Combine that with the royalties landowners are receiving from gas leases, and you have wealth that could be spent in our area, he said.

"It's going to be bringing paychecks into our community," he said. "Those paychecks will be spent in our community on services and goods. Those paychecks will stimulate our economy in that way."



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