Fracking has made Carrizo Springs a boom town. A few years ago, Carrizo Springs, TX was an out-of-the-way town with a population of 5,600. Most of its people worked as ranchers or farmers. Some leased their property to hunters to make ends meet. Now, the south Texas town boasts a population of 40,000.
Oil companies from across Texas have tapped the Eagle Ford shale formation and almost doubled oil production over the past two years to 4 million barrels a day. The shale formation near Carrizo Springs runs 50 miles wide and 400 miles long and since its 2008 discovery, the town has enjoyed a new-found prosperity.
Property owners who are used to the boom and bust years of the oil industry enjoy one of the better boon times. Comparisons have been made to the Beverly Hillbillies, but if the oil company checks clear the bank the locals will not mind the comparison. The region is set to recap more than $90 billion over the next 10 years. Over the past five years, unemployment dropped from 12 to 4 percent countywide.
Help wanted signs at local eateries can be found in most restaurants. Positions for pipeline supply services, shale truck drivers can also be found in Carrizo Springs with the big oil companies. To handle the influx of new workers, oil companies have established over a dozen military-style camps or housing complexes with spartan acclamations for their workers. Residents with available land can rent to RV owners or people willing to camp at inflated prices. Hotels in the city have tripled.
Mayor Adrian DeLeon wants to expand his convenience store and restaurant that caters to oil workers. He is considering opening a community college and is happy that fracking has made Carrizo Springs a boom town.
The new prosperity to the region comes at a price. Heavy traffic leading in and out Carrizo Springs has cracked the highway. Theft and prostitution are up. The city doubled its police force by hiring 15 new deputies. They have their hands full with the extended population that included complaints of Mexican drug cartels using fake oil trucks to transport their illegal narcotics. Managing a boom town like Carrizo Springs is much like handling the shale oil that the fracking produces. Both need to be done slowly because once the oil is gone, Carrizo Springs will return to being a sleepy little town in south Texas.
Another problem is the vast amounts of water and chemicals needed to separate the oil from the shale. The Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer has been reduced by one-third and requires four to six million gallons per well.
Since January 5,021 oil and 2,468 gas wells were drilled with an additional 5,504 permits requested. In 2008, there were only 26 permits issued. By 2022, the deposits in the area are expected to generate 128,000 jobs throughout the region.
Estimates from U.S. Energy Information Administration now have Texas producing 2.7 million barrels a day, more than Alaska, California, North Dakota and Wyoming. No matter if the shale comes out of the ground fast or slow, fracking has made Carrizo Springs a boom town.
By Brian T. Yates