Ken Becker, the Executive Director of SEED (Sweetwater Enterprise for Economic Development), presented an informative program on the gas and oil industry during the Wednesday, noontime meeting of the Sweetwater Kiwanis Club.
Since January 2012, SEED has been following the industry, notably the Cline Shale. As the exploration is a new find, the Cline Shale is not found on most maps, although time will tell its true location.
Some estimates cite the Cline Shale as 140 miles long (north to south), 75 miles wide (east to west), anywhere from 6,000 to 9,000 feet deep, and 200 to 500 feet thick. This size is almost double of what some believe the Eagleford Shale extends, and around 30 billion barrels are estimated from the Cline Shale.
Many people feel that with this endeavor, water is a concern. To frack one well, anywhere from three to five million gallons are used.
But, Becker stated that this amount must be put into perspective, as 4.5 million gallons of water would keep Sweetwater operational for two full days. He said that the industry is doing a good job in finding alternate methods in the fracking process, although the most inexpensive route has been using freshwater.
One of the largest companies in the industry is Devon, who has 650,000 wells--with around 500,000 being within the Cline Shale. Nolan County is one of several counties in the Cline Shale, but there is still uncertainty as to what level the county will be included.
Becker has also been speaking with Sweetwater High School alum Robert Reyes, a fluid expert with Halliburton. Reyes' role is to maintain wells and teaching others how to change fluids used in the process, resulting in a new industry for a whole new market.
Overlap is one thing that will be seen for Nolan County, as its location is in the eastern part of the Permian Basin while also being part of the Cline Shale. Due to its depth, Becker said that the Cline Shale is more of a geological location than a geographical location.
In October 2012, Nolan County began working alongside entities in Snyder and Colorado City to learn about the future endeavor, specifically by learning from the Eagleford Consortium in San Antonio. While many people first heard in 2010 of how the Eagleford Shale became an overnight success, the first well was actually drilled in 2005.
And locally, the same thing is happening with the Cline Shale. Becker explained that many people do not have information on the venture, thus they lack understanding that something of this magnitude takes time to occur.
As a result, complacency within a community can set it. However, Sweetwater and the nearby communities have worked diligently in determining how to plan for the Cline regarding workforce and housing, in which the latter has typically proven to be the last piece of the puzzle.
However, Sweetwater has been fortunate with community growth since the 2006 wind boom. While 1,200 workers were in the area in 2008, the number has decreased to around 250--but overall growth has resulted.
In order to be proactive and prepare for the future, Becker praised the SEED board in their work with the Sweetwater Business Park. Purchased in 2005, work began in 2008 and by January 2013, all 88 acres were sold.
He also acknowledged the work by the city in their ordinances regarding shipping containers and truck parking. And although money is required, examination is being done on how county roads will be resurfaced due to increased traffic.
The state of Texas is a large part of the industry, as it produces 30% of all oil in the United States. Of that total, the Permian Basin alone makes up 18 to 20%.
And if Texas was a nation of its own, it would be ranked third-largest in the world regarding natural gas. It would only fall behind Russia and the remaining 49 states in America.
Furthermore, Nolan County has made an imprint in the wind industry, as they are among the top 12 to 15 in world rankings. Thus, Becker noted that the community cannot forget its past and it must take care of the businesses already in the area, even while the oil boom makes it way.
In the past 12 months, over ten companies have already established offices, as Sweetwater boasts itself as a great location for a regional office. Becker expressed how fortunate Sweetwater is to be in a new and exciting position, along with the city and county workers and employees who are willing to make the town a progressive community.