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Eagle Ford Shale Jobs. The Economic Impact On South Texas

The article The Eagle Ford Shale discusses  the Eagle Ford shale play, a major discovery of oil and gas in South Texas.  See Eagle Ford Shale Blog  for updates on recent developments.

Not Like Past Oil Booms In South Texas

Update: 05/23/2011

As of now there are over 165 rigs drilling in the Eagle Ford shale play and many new producing oil and gas wells, some which are flowing over 2000 barrels per day of crude. More rigs will be coming, as soon as major pipeline projects are completed in the next couple of years. Eagle Ford shale job creation is now in full swing, with scores of new businesses opening up in the region. There are new oilfield related jobs in South Texas in every line of work from welding, heavy equipment operators to frac sand hauling and roughneck jobs. Many South Texas residents are just now realizing that they are sitting on top of one of the largest oil and gas fields in the United States, and that the new boom is going to last for many years and create thousands of new jobs.

Below:  On left, photo of new compressor station being constructed along SH-97 near Los Angeles, TX for an Eagle Ford shale natural gas pipeline. The need for infrastructure such as this is creating a huge number of new Eagle Ford shale jobs in all kinds of industries.  Right, Stallion has opened a new oilfield business in Tilden, TX providing rental equipment for drilling rigs. The aluminum water pipe you see in the right hand corner is rented to drilling companies to transport Eagle Ford shale frac water from huge open pits to well locations. See What Is A Frac Job?

 Gas compressor station in Eagle Ford shale near Cotulla Texas. Stallion rental office in Tilden Texas, another Eagle Ford shale business.

Why Is The Eagle Ford Shale Discovery Different?

One thing that makes this natural gas play different from past oil and gas booms is the fact that, like the Barnett Shale, there is a very good chance that a well will be productive anywhere in the leasehold area. Drilling wells in the Eagle Ford shale is more like a manufacturing operation than a high risk venture. That's why lease payments have risen as high as $8000 in some areas, since oil companies know more or less how much oil and gas lies under the property. The blanket - like nature of the shale rock formation, spreading across literally thousands of square miles, ensures that literally thousands of wells will have to be drilled.  This translates to thousands of Eagle Ford shale jobs in a variety of fields.

While the Eagle Ford shale is not uniform and has different porosity and quality of oil and gas, depending on where the acreage lies, it is for the most part continuous throughout much of the play. It is composed of three zones, which are productive of natural gas, natural gas and condensate, and crude oil. The "gas and condensate" and "oil windows" in Frio, LaSalle, McMullen, Live Oak, Atascosa and other counties, are the focus of intense drilling activity at the moment. The surface of this oil and gas play has only been scratched, with literally thousands more wells to be drilled over the coming years.

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 There is already a high need for skilled oil rig workers, service hands,  frac sand and gravel truck drivers,  pipeline construction crews, water haulers, hotshot delivery service drivers, lease construction workers, heavy equipment operators and more. The number of oilfield jobs in South Texas that is resulting from the Eagle Ford shale discovery is truly amazing and is a well needed shot in the arm for the region, which has seen many oil booms come and go.  This boom is defectively going to last for many years for the simple reason that there is so much country to drill up.

Towns that are already oil and gas hubs, such as Alice and Corpus Christi Texas, should get a big boost from the Eagle Ford shale in the coming months. Small towns such as Jourdanton, Pleasanton, Tilden, Three Rivers, Freer (already home to many service companies) and Cotulla are already seeing a number of oilfield jobs created by the upcoming drilling activity. Owners of every type of business are benefitting as royalty checks and oilfield payroll money is pumped back into the local economy. Local tax coffers should see more revenue and this is good news for small town school districts. As money from royalty payments flows into the economy this will create all kinds of jobs not related to oil and gas drilling in South Texas. From new cell phone towers to schools and roads, South Texas is undergoing a massive "makeover". Not all residents of the region may like it, and not all changes will be good, such as more traffic, but more jobs at better salaries will definitely improve quality of life for many families.

Eagle Ford Bigger Than The  Barnett Shale?

  Photo of frac tanks used on Eagle Ford shale wells.

 Derrick Man Working In the Barnett Shale,                              Photo of frac tanks used on Eagle Ford shale wells.

Differences Between The Eagle Ford Shale and Barnett Shale

While there are some very big differences in the Barnett Shale and the Eagle Ford shale plays, we should see a similar rate of job creation. Barnett shale wells are much shallower, about 4000 feet shallower on average.  The Eagle Ford shale, at least in the middle and northern part of the play, is turning out to hold much more liquids,  (oil and condensate), than the Barnett shale. Given the high price of crude oil compared to natural gas, the economic impact of the Eagle Ford could be much greater than the Barnett shale.

Eagle Ford shale wells do cost more than Barnett shale wells to drill, due to depth and because more complex frac jobs are required. However, the cost of drilling wells in the Eagle Ford shale will diminish over time as companies develop and perfect new drilling procedures and an "economy of scale".

Another factor that makes McMullen, LaSalle, Frio, Atascosa and other South Texas counties an ideal location for a large gas field is the lack of any major cities. In the case of the Barnett shale there are tremendous obstacles to drilling, including subdivisions, roads, golf courses, noise regulations, etc.

Another large headache to oil companies is the incredible number of parcels, some as small as thirty by fifty feet, on which gas royalty payments must be paid to landowners holding mineral rights. Most of the land in South Texas is in the form of large ranches, which simplifies a number of things for operators.

What will the impact on the economy of South Texas be? Perhaps we can look to the Barnett shale for an example. In the Dallas - Fort Worth area it was estimated that the job creation effect in the past five years was equivalent to one Boeing aircraft plant opening every six months. These jobs largely resulted from drilling and completion of horizontal wells, pipeline construction and the trickle down effect on other professions.

In South Texas, as Eagle Ford shale drilling accelerates, there will be all kinds of employment opportunities created besides oilfield jobs. As landowners receive large royalty checks they often use this money for ranch improvements, bigger homes, cars and trucks and so on. This flow of money into the economy is already becoming evident in towns such as Pleasanton and Jourdanton, where new stores are opening up.

For an area of the country that has seen it's share of boom and bust oil activity, the Eagle Ford shale formation discovery will mean quite a few lasting jobs. If you are about to graduate from high school, and intend on staying in South Texas, you may want to consider furthering your education to prepare yourself for one of the types of jobs that are being created by this major oil and gas field.

Return to main article about the Eagle Ford Shale: The Eagle Ford Shale

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