Report: Barnett Shale Accounts For 40 Percent Of Economic Growth In Past 10 Years

By Matt Goodman, Chuck Schechner & Joel Thomas, CBSDFW.COM

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Natural gas companies have only been drilling the Barnett Shale for a decade, but the amount of economic activity it generates annually has already sailed past what aircraft manufacturing and transportation brings to the region, the Fort Worth City Council was told Tuesday.

Since 2001, natural gas drilling in the Barnett Shale has pumped $65.4 billion into the region’s economy and currently sustains 100,268 jobs throughout a 24-county area, economist Ray Perryman told the council.

Of that estimated $65.4 billion generated in the region since 2001, $5.8 billion went to local taxes, Perryman said.

A report written and researched by the economist’s Waco-based firm The Perryman Group – aptly titled “A Decade of Drilling” – was presented to the council at the behest of the city’s chamber of commerce during Tuesday morning’s meeting.

The economic impact it illustrates is so substantial that it stunned members of the city council: Perryman said natural gas drilling accounted for nearly 40 percent of the region’s economic growth over the past decade.

It also generates five percent more than aircraft manufacturing and 10 percent more than air transportation, two long-standing stalwarts of economic growth throughout the area, the report says.

“It started out as a nine county region, and it’s now a 25 county region,” Perryman said. “The more exploration they did, they just discovered how big this field really was.”

Perryman told KRLD after the meeting that job growth from drilling peaked in 2008, when the natural gas industry was supporting about 120,000 positions. It continues to generate about 65,000 jobs each year, he added, and area employment is about 8.7 percent higher than it would have been because of the drilling.

“We’re well above that now and I think we’ll be above it for a long time,” he said.

But all that growth comes with a price. Some residents in counties that give the OK to hydraulic fracturing have expressed concern as drilling rigs appear closer to their homes and schools.

In July, the city of Fort Worth issued its twice-delayed report on emissions at gas drilling sites. Findings showed three of the city’s eight compressor stations – which act as pumping stations, of sorts – exceeded permitted emission levels.

Some sites were found to be emitting benzene and other toxic pollutants into the air. The findings were alarming, city officials said, but did not pose a significant health threat to residents.

“When you know the facts, you can do something about solutions, and that’s where we are,” Councilman Jungus Jordan told CBS 11 in July. “We can solve this one, Fort Worth always does. The region always does. DFW always does. We’ll find a solution.”

Just days after the Fort Worth study, Gov. Rick Perry signed a bill into law that requires natural gas drillers to disclose what chemicals they pump into the ground to fracture the rock and reach the gas deposits.

It was the first law like it in the U.S., and added 20 additional air monitors in counties that sit on the Barnett Shale.

These measures, combined with the relatively immediate economic boost since drilling began in 2001, has Perryman predicting that gas production in the region will only accelerate into the future.

“We’re going to need all of the gas that’s under the ground here,” he said. “We’re going to have a huge demand for energy worldwide.”

Gas drilling currently exists in 24 North Texas counties, although a 25th has secured the proper permits to begin. The Fort Worth City Council will hold a public hearing on Oct. 18 to receive input on a proposal for tighter drilling restrictions near neighborhoods.

  • Patricia Musselman

    To Mr. Matt Goodman, et al
    I live in east Ft. Worth and am wondering – with the sale of XTO to Exxon- how does one find out if the lease is being exercised? In other words, with the (at least) two gathering stations in the east Ft. Worth area – how does one find out if a company is drawing out gas from under the city residential lot?
    thank you.

  • Report: Barnett Shale Accounts For 40 Percent Of Economic Growth In Past 10 Years « Fort Worth News Feeds

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  • darrell

    the jobs created at best are long term temp jobs. once the energy companies have invasively intruded into our lives, contaminated all the ground water with fracking and left the ground beneath us unstable forever they will finish their supply infrastructure, confirm the wells then cap them. then they will wait for the leases to expire give time for people to forget or for the economy to not improve then through third party buyers start buying up mineral rights at bargin prices. then when they are ready, they will pump the gas, do some more fracking and reap all the profits and not have to share any of it. its their MO.

  • James G

    Let’s look deeper into these “jobs” that are being created. I bike to work along the Trinity River and pass 2 wells within a half-mile of each other. Both wells derive their water needs straight from the City of FW and more directly right from the river. I have video taped the fracking process and it’s horrible. I have also video taped them dumping fracking waste water back into the river. I have only seen ONE non-Hispanic worker at the pumps and setting up the equipment. I am Hispanic and speak Spanish so I was able to talk to the workers about the what was going on and they all nod and say they don’t know. I am not saying that all of these workers are illegals but it makes you wonder…cheap labor is cheap labor for these companies.

    • darrell

      shouldnt be any surprise. city/county officials wont do anything all they see is revenue from sweet deals they made with the energy companies. no one is going to do anything about enforcing the immigration laws or the hiring laws. the obama administration has made it clear, anyone touches his pet illegals and the justice department will be talking to them.

    • foe

      This article is a plug for the drillers apparently with very suspicious stats. d

  • Friggin' Fracking

    40% – not bad. In a related story, drilling and fracking are probably responsible for the same percentage of new cases of cancer, oh, and the light earthquakes, and the faucets that spew fire…

  • tonyd, grapevine, texas

    How about all the water their wasting with their fracking process. Do they realize that there’s a drought in Texas right now, and residents are being forced to conserve for this? Shut down the fracking and move up North where there is currently plenty of water, and leave our water alone until the drought condition subsides.

    • D' Oh!

      No kidding. Go to the Dakotas. There’s more water there, and a bigger shale field anyway.

  • D' Oh!

    Has anyone seen that new small “edutainment” park they’re putting in next to Grapevine Mills Mall? I think it’s by Chesapeake – not 100% sure on the company sponsoring it.

  • KC

    If you get one man a job while poisoning with both air and sound another do you really deserve a pat on the back ? Certainly not what I’d like to give you.
    I think you should have to buy my home you have made a hell and let one of those people you employ live in it.

    • Huh?

      Was that English?

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