FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – A familiar sight from the last decade in Fort Worth, has reappeared to start the new decade on the edge of the city’s downtown.
A natural gas drilling rig, stands against the skyline, above the intersection of I-35W and SH-121. It’s drilling down 9,000 feet beneath the Top Golf next door, and west under development that has built up around it as well pads have been quiet for years.
While the rigs used to operate commonly around the city a decade ago, Fort Worth only had one last year, and one in 2018.
The operation on E. 1st St is one of at least two the city is aware of that Total E&P Barnett plans to drill here in 2020.
Industry experts though told CBS 11 News it doesn’t signify any kind of local industry comeback.
“Probably not,” said Ed Ireland, the Director of Energy Education at TCU. “But when you think about it, all the infrastructure is here. It’s easy to drill wells. Relatively cost efficient to drill wells. The pipelines are in place. The pad sites are there. All the producing equipment is on the pad site already.”
TEP Barnett, which controls thousands of wells in the region, didn’t immediately respond to questions about its new operations.
Ireland however, who used to head the Barnett Shale Energy Education Council, said producers sometimes need to drill in order to keep leases valid.
The price of a unit of gas though, just over $2 now, is still too low he said to justify production costs on a large scale.
Additionally, as long as other mineral plays in the U.S. continue to produce oil, the wells here aren’t as attractive.
“When they strike oil, natural gas comes along with it for free,” Ireland said. “So there is a lot of free natural gas that is being produced and put into pipeline. So it’s just not needed, natural gas from other places.”
The Barnett still holds as much as 80% of its gas so some level of activity is expected to return, just not at the level when Fort Worth was calling itself the Shale Energy Capitol.