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Eagle Ford: The promise of Eagle Ford — an analysis
Special to the Wilson County NewsOctober 24, 2012 | 1,523 views | 5 comments
By Dave Roberts
At a time when much of America is still struggling to put people back to work, generate revenue for local, state, and federal treasuries, and attract large capital investments, the Eagle Ford shale has transformed South Texas into a model of economic growth for the rest of the country.
Amid all the activity and excitement, we find ourselves at a critical moment in time.
Without question, we’re fortunate to be in the midst of an energy supply revolution, due largely to the application of advanced technology and continued innovation in the oil and gas industry. But we also face significant social, environmental, and geopolitical challenges that have accompanied this growth.
If we’re going to deliver on the promise of the Eagle Ford, we must recognize, embrace, and commit ourselves to developing solutions for dealing with these many challenges. Doing so in a vacuum will only spell failure. All stakeholders -- local communities, operators, regulators, and elected officials, to name a few -- must continue to work in a spirit of cooperation if we’re going to further advance this opportunity and realize the full potential and the full benefits of these vast resources. We’ve made significant progress, but there’s still much work to be done.
At Marathon Oil, we’re proud to be part of the Eagle Ford shale equation. This asset is a priority for us, and our investment reflects that -- over the next five years, we plan to spend approximately $1.6 billion annually to responsibly grow our operations and increase production in South Texas.
As an industry, our progress is tied directly to our ability to assure local communities we can deliver energy and economic security simultaneously, and that we’ll be able to do so in a safe and environmentally responsible manner while balancing impacts on infrastructure.
We certainly don’t have all the answers, but we’re working hard to tackle pressing issues such as traffic and road safety, work-force training, and water use. What’s more, we’re addressing these challenges in collaboration with stakeholders who represent all walks of life in the many communities that make up the region.
An excellent example is the ongoing work by Texas Railroad Commissioner David Porter and his Eagle Ford Task Force, a forum established by Porter to open lines of communication among a diverse set of stakeholders that includes operators, local government leaders, and the environmental community.
Another notable development is the launch of the South Texas Energy and Economic Roundtable -- better known as STEER -- an industry association formed to serve as a one-stop educational resource and liaison with local officials, residents, the media, and other stakeholders.
Marathon Oil and other operators are helping to promote safe driving through a number of initiatives, and we’re partnering with colleges, school districts, workforce development groups, and recruiters to help both individuals and local businesses adapt to the current job market.
We’re also very conscious about concerns over water use in oil and gas operations, and how that might impact supplies. Marathon Oil is committed to minimizing our use of fresh water and we estimate that less than 3 percent of the water used in our current Eagle Ford operations is categorized as drinking water. We’ve almost significantly reduced the amount of water we’re using in our hydraulic fracturing operations by employing a polymer gel mix -- commonly used in ice cream and other foodstuffs -- to produce a thicker, more viscous fluid.
Clearly, South Texas is experiencing a positive transformation that can manifest itself in many ways -- more and better paying jobs, improved infrastructure that includes better roads, better schools, and other public services. But even beyond these benefits, what’s being created is a spirit of progress that will allow people to build a future for themselves and their families -- a future in which people have the ability to pursue broad opportunities right here at home in Texas.
Dave Roberts is the executive vice president and chief operating officer of Marathon Oil Corp.
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