Oil Production Will Affect Texas Highway Safety

All too often the news includes a report that a tanker truck or 18-wheeler has crashed on a Texas highway. For example, in late March the driver of a gasoline tanker truck died when his truck rolled over and caught fire after a collision with a car. The occupants of the car were hospitalized in serious condition. Environmental quality officials had to deal with the spilled contents of the tanker, and the road was heavily damaged and required repair.

Such sobering stories could become more common as vehicle traffic increases on Texas roads due to a huge boom in oil production in the Eagle Ford Shale - leading to more Eagle Ford Shale-related truck accidents.

Shale as an Oil Source

The oil deposits in the large Eagle Ford Shale play have become more accessible with the development of hydraulic fracturing, a technique that uses water to extract oil from the layers of rock. Enthusiastic mining companies are stepping up drilling, with ten times as many oil rigs now operating as were in place in January 2010.

Experts predict that the Eagle Ford Shale will soon become the second-largest producer of oil from shale, behind the Bakken Shale play in Montana and North Dakota. An energy research director says that production from the Bakken Shale will reach a million barrels a day in 2015, with the Eagle Ford Shale attaining that milestone the following year.

Compare those numbers with the Eagle Ford Shale's oil production for all of 2011: just over 30 million barrels for the year. Reflecting recent growth, that amount is almost seven times the production from this shale bed in 2010.

Production Delays

Right now about 1,400 wells are waiting to be completed and linked to pipelines. Pipeline construction and drilling need more work crews. Production is also being held up by a shortage of water. One way or another, companies expect to resolve the delays within the next year.

Once enough workers can be hired, the pipeline system is developed, and wells are adequately supplied with water, growth should accelerate rapidly to reach the predicted oil production levels.

Caution on the Highways

Much more oil production will mean many more tanker trucks on Texas roadways. Drivers will need to keep an eye out for these large trucks. In the event of an accident involving a tanker truck or 18-wheeler, injured motorists should consult with an attorney about their right to recover damages to pay for medical care, lost wages, and pain and suffering.