Water Rights and Use at the Forefront of Debate

As we hear more are more questions about water, we thought it was worth aggregating some of the data we have found. We recently published an Eagle Ford Water page as a reference for everyone in South Texas. You can find the page by hovering over "Geology" in the navigation and clicking "Water" in the drop down. We've added detailed information on Water Use Per Well, where we're beginning to see Water Recycling, and the TCEQ who regulates Water Rights in South Texas.

We'll be adding and editing the page as new information comes to light. You can also go straight there by clicking this link: http://eaglefordshale.com/water/

Eagle Ford Air Quality to be Monitored - TCEQ

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has plans to monitor emissions levels related to the Eagle Ford Shale. The commission will place monitors in 24-Eagle Ford counties. This comes as no surprise as San Antonio is already close to reaching nonattainment. That means San Antonio is close to not meeting EPA standards for emissions. Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston are the only two areas in Texas considered nonattainment areas. If the Eagle Ford development adds significant emissions in the San Antonio metropolitan area, it's not likely the city will stay in compliance with federal standards. With monitors in place, we should know relatively soon. Natural Gas and oil production do not directly contribute to higher emissions levels, but truck traffic and remote power sources do. The use of both will decrease as adequate pipeline infrastructure comes online and as electric utilities bring power to the more remote areas of drilling. 

With recent Texas and EPA squables regarding water in the Barnett Shale, it will be interesting to see how this evolves in South Texas. Eagle Ford Shale water concerns have lead headlines to date, but it won't take much publicity from the EPA to bring air quality to the forefront of everyone's thoughts.

Read more about the commissions monitoring at bizjournals.com

Eminent Domain Might Be Losing Power in Texas

Eminent domain in Texas might be redefined if a recent court ruling is upheld by higher courts. The court considered the remainder value of the Donnell's family lands in McMullen County, TX and not the pipeline right-of-way alone. The decision required the Eagle Ford pipeline company to compensate the family for depreciation of all lands.  That includes land not directly impacted by the pipeline. The family successfully argued that the land lost value due to its proximity to the pipeline. Essentially, they argued more than just the right-of-way was affected by the pipeline and additional compensation should be required. The pipeline company has been ordered to pay the family $600,000, but the decision will be challenged in higher courts before we get a final decision.

The question wasn't whether LaSalle Pipeline LP — which has the right of eminent domain — could lay a 16-inch, 52-mile pipeline that would cross two tracts of McMullen County land owned by Donnell Lands LP, a family partnership.

The biggest issue was whether the value of the rest of the ranchland would be affected by the pipeline's presence.

The company said no. But the landowners said yes, and a trial jury agreed with them to the tune of more than $600,000.

That decision has been winding its way through the Texas court system, and along with some legislative changes that went into effect in September, could represent a small step in giving landowners a larger voice in eminent domain battles.

Read more at mysanantonio.com

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.