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The Barnett Shale in Texas

The Barnett Shale is a natural gas rich geological formation in Texas that is estimated to stretch from the city of Dallas to west of the city of Fort Worth and south, covering 5,000 square miles and at least 17 counties. Some experts have suggested the Barnett Shale may be the largest onshore natural gas field in the U.S. The field is proven to have 2.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and is widely estimated to contain as much as 30 trillion cubic feet of natural gas resources. Oil has also been found in lesser quantities, but sufficient enough to be commercially viable.

The Barnett Shale is known as a "tight" gas reservoir, because its gas is not easily extracted. The shale is hard, and until recently it was virtually impossible to produce gas in commercial quantities from it. However, recent developments in hydraulic fracturing technology and horizontal drilling coupled with increasing natural gas prices have made development of the Barnett Shale economically feasible. Production rates have increased dramatically.

Development of the Barnett Shale

Future development will be hampered in part by the fact that major portions of the field are in urban areas. Some local governments are researching how they can drill on existing public land (e.g., parks) without disrupting other activities so they can earn royalties on the oil and gas produced. Others are seeking compensation from drilling companies for damage to rural roads caused by overweight vehicles and equipment.

Two key developments in exploration methods have made development of the Barnett feasible:

  • Horizontal Drilling
    Recent advances in horizontal drilling have opened up the potential of the Barnett Shale as a major producer. Horizontal drilling enables producers to drill horizontally beneath neighborhoods, schools and airports. Since much of the gas is beneath the City of Fort Worth, horizontal drilling methods are key to making it accessible for production. A horizontal well also exposes more rock, more natural or induced fractures to the wellbore, which can have the benefit of making a gas well more productive.

  • Hydraulic Fracturing (Fracking)
    Hydraulic fracturing is achieved by pumping water into the well bore under high pressure to fracture the surrounding rock formation. These fractures allow a greater volume of gas to be extracted, and allow wells to produce at economically feasible rates.

As of 2007, bonuses paid to landowners in the southern counties range from $200 to $2000 per acre with royalty payments in the 18-25% range. Terms of recent leases have included $15,000 per acre and a 25% royalty for homeowners in Ryan Place, Mistletoe Heights, and Berkley on Fort Worth's south side, and $22,500 per acre and a 25% royalty for a group of homeowners in south Arlington.

One lease in Johnson County now has 19 wells permitted. New drilling permits in Johnson County are being approved at an average rate of 60 per month, and in Hill County at a rate of 20 per month. Per the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 100,000+ new leases were recorded in Tarrant County in 2007. In 2006, the Barnett Shale was responsible for 55,385 permanent jobs and contributed $491 million in revenues to Texas and $228 million in revenues to local governments. Economic projections indicate that by 2015 the Barnett Shale may be responsible for 108,000+ jobs.

Frequent Injuries & Disasters in the Barnett Shale

The oil and gas industry isn't kind to its workers—while some people make a good living, far too many workers spend the rest of their lives paying for injuries they suffered on the job. In the oilfield, workers are subjected to toxic exposure, traumatic fallout from explosions, falls, and head injuries. People are forced to endure lifelong pain and financial ruin because of their company's reckless practices.

Our accident lawyers make sure they don't.

People call Arnold & Itkin when they're tired of fighting for pennies from their insurer, tired of being ignored by workers' comp, or tired of feeling like their company is trying to bully them into silence. Most of all, people call Arnold & Itkin when they want to get their lives back to normal. Our clients have been able to get themselves out of debt, keep their homes, and provide for their families because our Barnett Shale injury lawyers fought for what they needed. If that's you, all you need to start is to fill out a quick form to tell us about yourself. Simple as that.

Talk to a Houston Oil & Gas Attorney Today: (888) 493-1629

If you own mineral interests in the Barnett Shale region, you may already have been approached by landmen wanting to negotiate oil and gas leases with you. You owe it to yourself to be fully informed of the many issues that should be addressed to maximize your potential revenues, and to protect your property and interests. Contact a Houston oil and gas attorney at (888) 493-1629 to learn more about your options.

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