For most of the past year, the ongoing boom in the Permian Basin has sucked all the oxygen out of the room in terms of media reporting on the oil and gas industry in Texas. The mergers and acquisitions frenzy of 2016 raised per-acre acquisition costs to $40,000, and that in turn led a rapid rise in the Permian’s rig count and subsequent drilling boom to take advantage of the higher oil prices that came about at the end of the year. That story, which has resulted in the Permian’s becoming not only the nation’s largest oil producing basin, but also it’s second largest natural gas producing basin (more on that next week), is very compelling and needed to be told.
But the last year has seen another compelling growth story come about in the state’s other major oil play, the Eagle Ford Shale region of South Texas. It’s a story in which the region’s rig count has more than tripled in a year, from less than 30 to more than 90, in which new-well productivity has more than doubled in less than two years, and in which the economic driver that turned this historically poor region into the nation’s hottest economic development area from 2011 thru mid-2014 has begun to rise again.