News

Eagle Ford ‘boom’ not quite to Milam

But old Minerva Field pumping again
By MIKE BROWN
Reporter Editor

Many Milam County residents are keeping their fingers—and bank account books—crossed hoping that the booming Eagle Ford Shale oil activity in South Texas comes a bit further north and brings its economic tidal wave with it.

In the meantime, a mini oil boom of sorts is going on right now in an almost 100-year-old field just north of Rockdale.

The Eagle Ford is the sixth largest oil field ever discovered in the United States and the largest in over 40 years.

It’s already brought an influx of jobs, and corresponding growth and infrastructure stress, to several San Antonio area counties.

And the Eagle Ford, which lies beneath the Austin Chalk—a formation which brought a 1970s boom to Central Texas—is under a portion of Milam County.

“It gets deeper as it gets further north, in our part of the world,” Milano oilman Bill Whitmire told The Reporter.

Through Feb. 7, there have been 3,474 permits, both oil and gas, issued in the Eagle Ford, according to the Texas Railroad Commission. But less than a half dozen have been issued in Milam County.

SHALLOW WELLS—Until the Eagle Ford bonanza arrives—if it does—something remarkable is happening in the old Minerva-Rockdale Field, which was the site of a major oil boom that began during the “Roaring 20s.”

According to the Railroad Commission, 261 oil and gas drilling permits in the area were approved in 2011, resulting in the most activity in years.

“You can drive down the county roads and see drilling and pumps,” Precinct 2 Commissioner Kenneth Hollas, who has the Minerva area in his precinct, said. “Activity has really picked up.”

The Minerva-Rockdale Field is considerably shallower than the Eagle Ford activity. “I think the wells are 500 to 600 feet down,” Hollas said.

Activity isn’t confined to that field. “There are also some recent wells around Milano, Precinct 3 Commissioner Dale Jaecks said.

FACTORS—Technology and recent increases in the price of oil are playing a big role in increased activity across the board in the oil industry.

Knowing where oil is makes up just part of the equation where the drilling industry is concerned.

Being able to retrieve oil at a profit is also a major factor.

The Minerva-Rockdale Field was discovered in 1921 and in the 1920s was one of Texas’ major working fields.

POTENTIAL—The Eagle Ford is under all, or part, of 22 Texas Counties, including a portion of Milam.

The current boom has brought an economic boom to a number of those counties, including Karnes, DeWitt, Wilson, Live Oak and Atascosa.

According to the Railroad Commission, about two dozen Eagle Ford permits have been issued as close as Burleson County and several permits have been issued in Lee County.

It’s estimated the Eagle Ford Shale in Texas may contain as much as 25-billion barrels of oil and 150-trillion cubic feet of natural gas.


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