Hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking, is on the rise again in North Texas. Over recent months, several oil companies have filed applications for new gas wells in the Fort Worth area, which is part of the Barnett Shale.
The renewed expansion of fracking is believed to be linked to rebounding gas prices following the impact of the pandemic. A significant portion of natural gas production is tied to oil, which is down since the onset of COVID-19. However, demand for natural gas remains steady, pushing gas prices up.
Another factor influencing the expansion of fracking is that some companies – including France’s Total –own leases in the Fort Worth area. “The legal cost is already sunk since they already own the leaseholds,” explained Bruce Bullock, director of the Maguire Energy Institute. “Given that and the fact that the forward price is so high, they can drill so deep and it doesn’t take very long to drill a well anymore, it’s relatively attractive to them right now.”
Over the summer, France’s Total received approval to drill 26 new wells from the Texas Railroad Commission. Although this marks a significant increase in activity, it’s far from the fracking levels during the North Texas boom in the mid-2000s. During this boom, large numbers of oil and gas drillers rushed into the Barnett Shale.