Eagle Ford Shale-A-Bration held at Hanger 9

Celebrating 10 years...


Rick Perry, U. S. Secretary of Energy, speaking with the three men who participated in the discovery and eventual drilling of the first Eagle Ford Shale well was drilled in La Salle County. From left, are Dick Stoneburner, who was Petrohawk Energy COO in 2008; Gregg Robertson, a geologist and President of Corpus Christi-based First Rock, Inc.; Robert Graham, owner of R&J Graham Energy, Inc., Boerne-based landman who leased nearly 250,000 acres for the first Eagle Ford Shale wells; Rick Perry and U. S. Representative Henry Cuellar. LEON ZABAVA | PLEASANTON EXPRESS

Rick Perry, U. S. Secretary of Energy, speaking with the three men who participated in the discovery and eventual drilling of the first Eagle Ford Shale well was drilled in La Salle County. From left, are Dick Stoneburner, who was Petrohawk Energy COO in 2008; Gregg Robertson, a geologist and President of Corpus Christi-based First Rock, Inc.; Robert Graham, owner of R&J Graham Energy, Inc., Boerne-based landman who leased nearly 250,000 acres for the first Eagle Ford Shale wells; Rick Perry and U. S. Representative Henry Cuellar. LEON ZABAVA | PLEASANTON EXPRESS

On Friday, October 19, an Eagle Ford Shale-A-Bration was held at historic Hanger 9 located at Brooks Field in the south area of San Antonio.

The occasion was to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the first discovery well being drilled in the Eagle Ford Shale.

There was a crowd of over 350 interested individuals from the oil and gas industry and other entities.

Key note speaker for the event was Rick Perry, U. S. Secretary of Energy. Presenting Perry was U. S. Representative Henry Cuellar.

Panel at the event consisted of three individuals who did the due diligence of bringing the Eagle Ford Shale drilling bonanza into existence.

Those individuals and panelists at the event included Boerne-based landman Robert Graham, owner of R&J Graham Energy, Inc., who had a role of leasing nearly 250,000 acres for the first Eagle Ford Shale wells, which were drilled by First Rock, Inc. and Petrohawk Energy.

Another panelist, Gregg Robertson, a geologist, is president of Corpus Christi-based oil company First Rock, Inc., which, back in 2008, was prominent during the Hawkville discovery. He worked in a secret partnership where Petrohawk put all of the drilling permits and leases under First Rock’s name. Robertson remained at his company after Petrohawk’s sale to BHP Billiton.

The third panelist, Dick Stoneburner, who was Petrohawk Energy Corp. Chief Operations Officer during Eagle Ford discovery efforts. Stonebrenner is presently managing director on the energy investment team at Pine Brook Partners in Houston.

“Oh how much” the landscape has changed in the 15 county region of Eagle Ford Shale drilling.

When you look back, the City of Pleasanton has changed dramatically. There are multi-story hotels and apartments in the city along with many restaurants and a host of other locally and corporate owned businesses associated with a city experiencing a growing economy.

Other cities in Atascosa County are experiencing good growth also. Texas State Comptroller’s allocation historical summary shows sales and use tax checks to Atascosa County for 2018 for 10 months, through October, totalled 6,415,340.28. This compares much more favorabally compared to 2008 Atascosa County sales and use tax rebates for the whole year totalling 1,282,625.10.

Geographically, Pleasanton is ideally located. Going south from Pleasanton, it is located at about the middle of the Eagle Ford Shale, where you can proceed 200 miles east and 200 miles west to the extensions of the play. Then you have three major highways, Interstate 37, State Hwy. 97 and U. S. Hwy. 281. Also Union Pacific Railway goes through Pleasanton. Its close proximity to San Antonio is also an asset.

There are over 100 oil and gas associated supportive businesses in and surrounding Pleasanton.

In compiling this article, I was intitially reached by Robert Graham from Boerne, inviting me to attend the Eagle Ford Shale-A-Bration.

Back in 2014, I wrote a story about Graham in the Pleasanton Express about the experiences of a landman serving the oil industry. I chose Graham, being the landman who did the secret work of acquiring leases prior to the drilling of initial Eagle Ford Shale wells.

During the Shale-ABration, Graham mentioned putting the leasing documents under ‘lock and key’.

After the meeting Graham stated that, in 2007, his daughter, Krista, was brought into the business being his land manager, responsible for keeping the huge inventories, log-ins, and reviewing a lot of the leasing and documents for accuracy, which was, no doubt, the most important thing in their possession. “Due to so many absent years, we had not had the opportunity to really form a connection. This turned out to be one of the best moves I ever made. “My oldest daughter Kara is responsible for our accounting department and other financial matters.”

Chris Ashcraft, STEER Interim President, said, “STEER is proud to be a part of the Eagle Ford Shale and was honored to be a part of this milestone celebration. The growth that South Texas has seen from the Eagle Ford Shale is unprecedented, with new schools, parks and roads, the transformations are all around us. We look forward to seeing what the future of oil and gas production will hold for South Texas and the nation.”

Thomas Tunstall, PhD, senior research director at UTSA, and a leading authority about the Eagle Ford Shale, said, “I will just share a few thoughts. I started work at UTSA in November 2011. I remember during the job interview with the head of the UTSA Institute for Economic Development, Robert McKinley, telling me a research project we would be working on called the Eagle Ford Shale. He told me about this significant oil find in South Texas. I remember thinking (my dad was a petroleum engineer) that Texas had long since seen its best days of oil production. Yet after arriving at UTSA and running numbers on potential production, I became convinced of the overall potential of the field. Over time, estimated recoverable oil and condensate production has grown and is now believed to be 10-12 billion barrels.

“For the first report I was involved with, which covered economic impact in 2011, we reported the overall impact was $25 billion. People in the audience were astounded at that number. Activity peaked at around $123 billion in 2014, after which it fell due to lower oil prices. However, even in 2016, which is where the likely bottom was (we don’t yet have numbers for 2017) it was still at about $50 billion in economic impact. Because of the layoffs and lower tax revenues, people were unhappy with the situation in 2016, yet interestingly, the economic impact was still twice that of 2011 ($25 billion vs. $50 billion) when people were so ecstatic about Eagle Ford prospects. I suppose everything is relative.”

Tunstall added, “The Eagle Ford has presented significant opportunities for South Texas communities, many of which ranked among the poorest in the state, perhaps even the nation. If the community leaders stewarded the sales and property tax revenues wisely, they had resources to build recreational centers, schools and other infrastructure. We can expect to see activity in the Eagle Ford continue well into the future, as we are in, as we say in the most recent economic impact report, the ‘New Normal’.”

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