Eagle Ford Shale Task Force Report

View the Report
View the Report

The Eagle Ford Task Force met throughout 2011 and 2012 to address concerns and challenges that accompany the growing economy across South Texas.

The group compiled its findings in a report published by the Texas Railroad Commission. The report was overshadowed by UTSA's Updated Eagle Ford Study not long after its release, but there is still a wealth of information to take away.Major takeaways include:

  • Energy companies must explore previously untapped recruitment resources to meet immediate labor needs
  • TX RRC wants to speed up the determination that pipelines will be of "public use" to allow for quicker decisions in development
  • RRC records do not include a single documented groundwater contamination case associated with hydraulic fracturing
  • RRC is in the process of updating rules related to injection & disposal wells, well integrity, wellhead control, waste management, and water recycling
  • Texas oil production may push the US ahead of Saudi Arabia and Russia in 2020
  • Natural gas flaring in oil fields is being scrutinized at the regulatory level
  • Health care and expanded educational offerings are needed to equip workers of the future

If you have an interest in any of the topics above, you can read the full report at rrc.state.tx.us

Eagle Ford Task Force Finds South Texas Water Supply Sufficient

Data shows Carrizo Wilcox Aquifer contains enough water to support oil and gas development The Eagle Ford Task Force (EFTF), appointed by Texas Railroad Commissioner David Porter, convened in San Antonio in November and December to discuss water quantity and usage as it relates to oil and gas production in the Eagle Ford Shale.

The 26-member group was presented with data and statistics concerning water usage from several sources, and subsequently met privately to discuss the data presented and consider its implications.

The task force came to the conclusion that, based on the information presented, the Carrizo Wilcox Aquifer in South Texas appears to contain enough water resources to support oil and gas drilling activities, including hydraulic fracturing, in the Eagle Ford Shale while meeting all other projected uses.

“I am pleased to announce, after exhaustive research, our task force has found water sourcing in South Texas is currently not an issue,” said Railroad Commissioner David Porter.  “We will continue to study best practices for water management in the region to help mitigate any future issues.”

South Texas Water is Sufficient for Fracking

The data presented to the group indicated that drilling and completions in the Eagle Ford Shale account for approximately six percent of the water demand in South Texas, while irrigation accounts for 64 percent and municipal uses account for 17 percent.

In addition, the industry as a whole has reduced the amount of water it uses to hydraulically fracture wells.  Currently, industry is reporting an average use of approximately 11 acre-feet of water used to complete each well, down from the approximately 15 acre-feet previously used.

Industry experts informed the task force that approximately 2,600 to 2,800 new wells are expected to be completed annually in the Eagle Ford Shale at peak demand, which translates into about 30,000 acre-feet of water per year during the heaviest point of development of the Eagle Ford Shale.  In 2008, the Carrizo Wilcox Aquifer contained 540,000 acre-feet of available water.

"I am pleased industry has made improvements in reducing the amount of water used in the hydraulic fracturing process, and we look forward to working in a cooperative manner with all task force stakeholders to continue improving the process,” said task force member Teresa Carrillo, Sierra Club, Executive Committee Member, Lone Star Chapter.  “However, there is still concern that this pumping may have localized impacts on water levels in the aquifer and on aquifer discharges to streams and springs.  We are hopeful that through this task force process our concerns will be addressed.  Texas is on a world stage and we can make this a model for all the nation and the rest of the world to follow.”

Future Water Sources and Monitoring

Several task force members also indicated their companies are looking into using brackish water for hydraulic fracturing versus fresh water, freeing up even more resources in the Carrizo Wilcox Aquifer.

“EOG is always looking for ways to conserve natural resources and we are taking significant steps to minimize water usage,” said task force member Steve Ellis, Senior Division Counsel, EOG Resources, Inc.  “In addition, we are expanding the use of brackish water in our completion operations to reduce the demand for fresh water.”

Presently, there are several mechanisms in place to monitor water usage in the region.  For example, local Groundwater Conservation Districts measure water levels monthly to determine whether levels are increasing or decreasing.  Historically, during periods of drought, like the one South Texas has recently been experiencing, water levels will decline until normal rain patterns return.  At which time, water levels tend to return to pre-drought levels.

“We have seen water levels drop this past year due to the drought, which has caused everyone to pump more groundwater,” said task force member Mike Mahoney, General Manager, Evergreen Underground Water Conservation District.  “However, we do not see groundwater pumping for oil and gas drilling and completions as a significant contribution to the decline in water levels, when compared to overall pumping.”

The EFTF will continue to meet monthly to examine issues pertinent to the region.

David J. Porter was elected to the Texas Railroad Commission on November 2, 2010. A Certified Public Accountant and successful small business owner, Commissioner Porter has worked with oil and gas producers for nearly three decades providing strategic financial advice and tax counsel. He has a long record of pro-business, free market, conservative credentials. Visit www.rrc.state.tx.us for additional RRC information.

Contact Lauren Willis at lauren.willis@rrc.state.tx.us for additional information.

Eagle Ford Task Force - Water Issues at the Forefront of Agenda

The Eagle Ford Task Force met November 2, at the UTSA campus in downtown San Antonio. Water issues are at the forefront of the task force's agenda. Six experts invited by RRC Commissioner David Porter addressed the task force. Two of the presentation and the agenda can be accessed below

Both Darrell Brownlow, a geologist, and Stephen Jester, an engineer with ConocoPhillips, indicated there should be ample water to supply fracking needs in the Eagle Ford. Brownlow estimates that for every 1 acre-foot of water used in fracking that 280 acre-feet are used for other purposes. Jester estimates that at peak consumption the Eagle Ford will only account for 5-6.7% of water demand in the 16 county region he evaluated. That's really focusing in on the core. The aquifers in the region cover much more than 16 counties.

Advancements in completions are also decreasing the amount of water used in each well. Early on, operators reported using 125,000 bbls or more in completions, but some are now using less than 85,000 bbls of water per well and Jester believes that number will continue to decline on an efficiency basis.

Brent Halldorson of Fountain Quail Water Management addressed the potential of recycling flow back water (water produced after a hydraulic fracture completion). The industry has the opportunity to recycle as much as 15-20% of the water it uses in hydraulic fracturing. Fountain Quail recently opened a water treatment plant in Kenedy, TX.

One attendee brought up the fact that water used in fracking is taken out of the hydrologic cycle and not replaced, but several industry participants made sure the panel was aware that natural gas combustion creates water and that some have estimated the same amount of water used in fracking is produced from combustion of natural gas in the first few years of an Eagle Ford well's life. Interesting.

The Eagle Ford Task Force plans to meet once a month to address issues and concerns related to the Eagle Ford. Stay up to date with task force news at our Task Force News page.

Truck Traffic and Pipeline Advice from the Eagle Ford Task Force

The Eagle Ford Task Force has released advice for truck traffic and pipeline developments. It is all pretty straight forward and will help in making sure pipelines are developed without any problems and our roads are maintained as best as possible. Pipelines:

  • Placement of pipelines should avoid steep hillsides and watercourses where feasible
  • Pipeline routes should take advantage of road corridors to minimize surface disturbance
  • When clearing is necessary, the width disturbed should be kept to a minimum and topsoil material should be stockpiled to the side for replacement during reclamation, accelerating successful revegetation
  • Proximity to buildings or other facilities occupied or used by the public should be considered, with particular consideration given to homes
  • Unnecessary damage to trees and other vegetation should be avoided
  • After installation of a new line, all rights-of-way should be restored to conditions compatible with existing land use.


  • Trucking companies partnering with the Texas Department of Public Safety to develop a program that would alert companies when their drivers receive moving violations or drivers license suspensions
  • Creation of road use agreements or trucking plans between operators and local authorities, including parameters such as:
  1. Avoiding peak traffic hours, school bus hours, and community events.
  2. Establishing overnight quiet periods.
  3. Ensuring adequate off-road parking and delivery areas at all sites to avoid lane/road blockage.


Railroad Commission Announces Eagle Ford Shale Task Force

Railroad Commissioner David Porter announced the members of the Eagle Ford Shale task force and its mission. The group will meet monthly to help promote economic activity and establish best practices across the play. The Eagle Ford Shale will likely become one of the largest economic boosts to the economy that we've seen in history. The task force includes members from a wide variety of backgrounds, including representatives from the oil & gas industry. 

“Commissioner Porter has created a Task Force to establish a forum that will bring the community together and foster a dialogue. The mission of the task force is three-fold:


  • Open the lines of communication between all parties
  • Establish best practices for developing the Eagle Ford Shale
  • Promote economic benefits locally and statewide

'We received an overwhelming amount of feedback from talented and credible applicants, so the selection process was not an easy one,' said Commissioner Porter. 'However, I am confident we have chosen the right group to lead us through the development of the Eagle Ford Shale. We have done our best to ensure each stakeholder group is represented and all voices are heard.' ”

"The Task Force is comprised of local community leaders, local elected officials, water representatives, environmental groups, oil and gas producers, pipeline companies, oil services companies (including a hydraulic fracturing company, a trucking company and a water resources management company), landowners, mineral owners and royalty owners."

Leodoro Martinez – Middle Rio Grande Development Council, Executive Director, Cotulla

Kirk Spilman – Marathon Oil, Asset Manager Eagle Ford, San Antonio

The Honorable Jaime Canales – Webb County Commissioner, Precinct 4, Laredo

Teresa Carrillo – Sierra Club, Executive Committee Member – Lone Star Chapter, Treasurer – Coastal Bend Sierra, Corpus Christi

James E. Craddock – Rosetta Resources, Senior Vice President, Drilling and Production Operations, Houston

Erasmo Yarrito – Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Rio Grande Valley Water Master, Harlingen

Steve Ellis – EOG Resources, Senior Division Counsel, Corpus Christi

The Honorable Daryl Fowler – Dewitt County Judge, Cuero

Brian Frederick – DCP Midstream, Southern Unit Vice President for the East Division, Houston

Anna Galo – Vice President, ANB Cattle Company, Laredo

The Honorable Jim Huff – Live Oak County Judge, George West

Stephen Ingram – Halliburton, Technology Manager, Houston Business Development & Onshore South Texas, Houston

Mike Mahoney – Evergreen Underground Water Conservation District, General Manager, Pleasanton

James Max Moudy – MWH Global, Inc., Senior Client Service Manager, Houston

Trey Scott – Trinity Minerals Management, LTD, Founder, San Antonio

Mary Beth Simmons – Shell Exploration and Production Company, Senior Staff Reservoir Engineer, Houston

Terry Retzloff – TR Measurement Witnessing, LLC, Founder, Campbellton

Greg Brazaitis – Energy Transfer, Vice President, Government Affairs, Houston

Glynis Strause – Coastal Bend College, Dean of Institutional Advancement, Beeville

Susan Spratlen – Pioneer Natural Resources, Senior Director, Corporate Communications & Public Affairs, Dallas

Chris Winland – Good Company Associates; University of Texas at San Antonio, Interim Director, San Antonio Clean Energy Incubator, Austin/San Antonio

Paul Woodard – J&M Premier Services, President, Palestine

Read the full news release at rrc.state.tx.us