The majority of new oil and natural gas drilling in the U.S. is happening in Texas, according to a report published Tuesday by the federal Energy Information Administration (EIA).
American oil and gas drilling is increasingly concentrated in the Permian Basin, which spans parts of western Texas and southeastern New Mexico. The Permian now has nearly as many active oil rigs as the rest of the U.S. combined, according to an EIA report.
Oil production in the region has spiked drastically since early 2015, while production in other areas has fallen due to low oil prices. Permian oil is relatively cheap to access and refine since it’s close to most American refineries.
Fracking for oil and natural gas in Texas produces $11.8 billion each year and creates more than 107,000 permanent jobs, according to a report published by the industry group North Texans For Natural Gas.
The research found that lower natural gas prices from fracking saved the average Texan $432 in energy and home heating costs in Texas between 2007 and 2013. A similar report published early in October by the EIA found cheap oil and natural gas provided by fracking lowered the annual cost of living for the average American by almost $750.
Fracking is the process of using a high-pressure water mixture to release natural gas or oil from rock, unlocking reserves that were previously economically unfeasible to access. The process has triggered an oil and natural gas boom, which allowed the U.S. to pass Russia as the world’s largest producer of both oil and natural gas.
Texas’s Barnett Shale is estimated to hold 172 million barrels of shale oil and 176 million barrels of natural gas liquids, twice as much natural gas and oil as expected, according to a December study by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). To put those reserves in some context, Saudi Arabia’s total proven oil reserves are estimated to be 268 billion barrels, according to the CIA.
The Barnett Shale is not the only formation reassessed by the USGS to have double the reserves expected thanks to fracking. An updated assessment of the Bakken Formation in North Dakota came to a similar conclusion in 2013, as did a 2011 assessment of the Marcellus Shale.
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