Industry argues Denton ban inconsistent with state law

Denton, Texas, recently voted to pass a hydraulic fracking ban within city limits, the first municipality in Texas to do so. Similar proposals were rejected elsewhere in Texas, Ohio and California.

The decision has drawn attention, as the technique was originally pioneered at the Barnett shale formation, surrounding Denton. Denton also currently has 272 active wells within its city limits, according to Forbes.  As expected, members of the energy industry have voiced their concern and disapproval of the decision.

"A ban on hydraulic fracturing is inconsistent with state law," Thomas Phillips, a former head of the Supreme Court of Texas who now represents the Texas Oil & Gas Association explained in a statement. 

The state's top energy regulator, Texas Railroad Commissioner David Porter, also called for a reversal of the decision in a public statement. 

"Bans based on misinformation – instead of science and fact – potentially threaten this energy renaissance and as a result, the well-being of all Texans," he said. 

Experts explain that the fracking ban is essentially a ban on all drilling in the area. Setting up and maintaining a well in the Barnett shale formation is simply not cost-effective without the use of fracking techniques. Proponents of the ban argued that oil producers in the area were monopolizing scarce water supplies and causing congestion on local roads with excessive truck traffic.

Still, industry news source Rigzone does not anticipate any meaningful impact on U.S. crude production, which has reached 25-year highs. 

Oil field management consulting firms can assist upstream oil & gas enterprises to better engage with community leaders and residents.  Contingency planning, educational outreach, and continued pursuit of technological advances (such as "waterless fracking") can mitigate some of this business risk.