Resources Quarterly - WINTER 2013 - page 22

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The Eagle Ford shale play has been exceeding
expectations since it was first drilled in 2008.The
shale is now the largest oil and gas development in
theworld based on capital expenditures. It is also
quickly on its way to being the
largest on-shore shale play in
US history, based on volumes
of oil and gas produced. In 2013
alone, $30 billionwill be spent
on the play.
The Eagle FordShale play is a
81 km(50mile) by 644 km(400
mile) geological formation un-
derneath south-eastTexas.Oil and gas are being
produced at depths ranging from1,219 to 4,267
meters (4,000 to 14,000 feet).Over 200 operators
are currently active in the 25-county area.
Oil and natural gas trapped in geological forma-
tions called ‘shales’ are accessed bymulti-stage
hydraulic fracturing using a combination of vertical
and horizontal drilling. Size and various beneficial,
natural characteristics of the shale contribute to
the impact Eagle Ford is having on the energy
world.The formation produces crude oil, conden-
sate, dry natural gas, and natural gas liquids with
marginsmore favourable than other shale plays.
The light sweet crude oil and dry natural gas pres-
ent in the shale are particularly desirable for fur-
ther production and for price.
The Eagle FordShale play has beenmade a
major economic effect onTexas. In 2012, the play
made an impact in excess of $60 billion on the
SouthTexas economy and directly generated over
200,000 high-paying jobs. Indirect generation
of jobs and economic activity inTexasmust also
be considered.Tax activity derived fromthe play
has put an extra $12 billion inTexas’s state “Rainy
Day” fund.The play has also been important to
theUnitedStates as a country. InOctober 2013,
theUS producedmore oil than it imported for the
first time since February 1995.This would not have
been possiblewithout the high
Eagle FordShale production,
which has soared since 2011.
Between January andOctober
2013, the Eagle FordShale play
produced 659,092 barrels per
day of oil and 3,239MMcf (mil-
lion cubic feet), according to the
RailroadCommission ofTexas.
Natural gas is particularly desirable in the energy
market inNorthAmerica because it is a “cleaner”
energy source.
Natural gas drilling is one fastest growing energy
industries.TheUS Energy InformationAdministra-
tion (EIA) estimated in itsAnnual EnergyOutlook
of 2011 that shale gas will constitute 45%ofUS
total natural gas supply by 2035. In 2009, it was
only 14%.Canada and theUS have focused sig-
nificantly on energy in recent years in regards to
energy independence and finding ‘cleaner’ sources
of energy.
The energy sector is watching the Eagle Ford
Shale play and its developments.The play is ex-
pected to passmoremilestones in production yet.
Various estimates of the lifespan of the Eagle Ford
Shale play have been tentatively put forward, in-
cluding 16 and 20 years, although this numbermay
be elusive at best.And in addition to the actual
physical supply of oil and gas trapped in the shale,
the lifespan and productivitywill also depend on
global supply and demand for the resources. In any
case, the Eagle FordShale play is definitely one to
keepwatching.
The Eagle Ford Shale Play:
Impact and Milestones
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