Where Is Hydraulic Fracturing Taking Place in Texas?
The main region for natural gas extraction in Texas through horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," is the Eagle Ford shale region. Hydraulic fracturing happens naturally, but oil and gas companies speed up the process in order to release the natural gas out of the layers of rock. The process involves injecting a water, sand, and chemical mixture under the ground into the layers of rock at such a high pressure that oil and natural gas can be collected. Fracking has recently increased in areas like Eagle Ford Shale in South Texas.
Oil and gas industry experts widely believe Texas may contain one of the largest oil fields discovered in the country in several decades. The shale covers an area estimated to be 40 miles wide and up to 400 miles long and includes the bulk of Dimmitt, Live Oak, McMullen, DeWitt, Zavala, Karnes, and LaSalle counties. These are also counties where residents are starting to discover that the economic boom that comes with a natural gas boom also carries the risk of extensive groundwater contamination and related health hazards. A new legislation passed this February 2012 requires Texas oil drillers to be more transparent about the chemicals they use in the process of fracking.
Many are also concerned about the amount of water used in hydraulic fracturing and where that water is coming from. It is unclear as of right now if the water is coming from reservoirs or aquifers or even recycled from other fracking jobs. The Texas Water Development Board is stating that less of 1% of the state's water supply goes toward fracking, but it is believed that this number might not be accurate and up to date. With this new bill, the oil and gas industry will be required to be more honest about their procedure to protect the safety and wellbeing of Texas residents.