He said someday it could rival the California Gold Rush of the late 1840s in terms of economic impact.
Speaking at Monday night’s Three Rivers Chamber of Commerce banquet, Porter said by the year 2020, the Eagle Ford Shale is projected to provide 70,000 full-time jobs. The amount of rigs and production of oil and natural gas are continuing to climb upward on an exponential curve over the next several years.
A CPA and small business owner, he explained the Railroad Commission’s important role in regulating the oil and gas industry and repeated many of the mind-boggling points about the growth expected in Live Oak County and this region.
Porter noted that, thanks to hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, “the Eagle Ford Shale is one of the largest crude and natural gas discoveries in 40 years.”
It could play a huge role in leading the United States to energy independence, he said, with enough natural gas reserves to last as long as 300 years. The U.S. auto industry needs to convert to autos that run on natural gas, he suggested.
Porter touted his creation of the Eagle Ford Shale Task Force, the first of its kind at the RRC, to establish a forum that will bring the community together and foster a dialogue regarding drilling activities. He said he didn’t want the industry to make the same mistakes that had been made in previous shale formations, pitting oil companies against property owners.
Glynis Strause, Coastal Bend College dean of institutional advancement, and Live Oak County Judge Jim Huff are two members of the task force who were present at Monday’s banquet.
Porter said that he is very optimistic that the oil industry will increasingly use brackish or briny water to perform the fracking of the hard shale formation underground, not requiring the precious resource of fresh water. He was adamant that we must conserve water in this drought-stricken region.
He pointed out that the federal government is the biggest threat to this economic boom. The Obama administration’s EPA is lining up opponents and coming after fracking, he said, and some environmentalists are proposing placing the “spot-tailed earless lizard” on the endangered species list in order to prevent oil and gas exploration in South Texas.
There needs to be a common-sense balance, he urged, between developing this needed energy resource and protecting our land and water.
As if to confirm Porter’s positive message, Rick Garza, a Fort Worth architect and developer, made a presentation afterward that his company is planning to open a major development at the site of Love’s Travel Stop, between IH-37 and U.S. 281, including three hotels and six restaurants.
If their forecasts hold true, what a time to be alive and residing in this place – perhaps a golden era.
– Chip Latcham