A Landing a Day

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Posts Tagged ‘Barnhart TX’

Barnhart (and the Permian Basin), Texas

Posted by graywacke on September 3, 2019

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-a-week blog), I use an app that provides a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”

I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town or towns I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location. 

To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is) please see “About Landing” above.  To check out some relatively recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2455; A Landing A Day blog post number 891.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (N31o 9.569’, W101o 5.326’) puts me in W-Cen Texas:

My very local landing map shows that I landed just outside titular Barnhart:

Here’s my not-so-very local landing map, showing:  1) plenty of small towns, and 2) that San Angelo is the big town around:

The circled towns have been featured in two previous posts.  From one of them (my Iraan post) comes the following gem:

The name has nothing to do with the country of Iran. Oil was discovered on the ranch of Ira Yates and a contest was held to name the town that would soon materialize. Ira’s wife was named Ann. A woman (Mary Louise Lewis Hardgrave) combined the two names [although she dropped an “n”] and won a town lot as a prize.  She later sold the lot for $1,000.

My streams-only map shows (kind of) that I landed in the watershed of Spring Creek; on to the South Concho River (4th hit); to the Concho (7th hit); to the Colorado (30th hit; no, not that Colorado!).

I have pretty decent Google Earth (GE) Street View coverage:

My oil-patch-savvy readers can tell that I landed in the oil patch!  (All of those white patches are where oil wells are located.]

Here’s what the Orange Dude sees:

I found a fairly close-by place for the OD to get a look at my drainageway:

I wasn’t sure of the name of the Creek (since my Street Atlas map doesn’t pick up Spring Creek until quite a few miles further east).  But the good ol’ Texas DOT came to the rescue (as seen by the OD):

And Spring Creek is quite lovely.  A downstream look:

And upstream:


Of course, I checked out all of the local towns (not counting the towns I already covered in previoius posts), and of course, I couldn’t find much.  But I did find an August 2013 Guardian piece by Suzanne Goldberg  featuring Barnhart that caught my attention.  Here are some excerpts:


Fracking boom sucks away precious water from beneath the ground, leaving cattle dead, farms bone-dry and people thirsty

by Suzanne Goldberg in Barnhart, Texas

Beverly McGuire saw the warning signs before the town well went dry: sand in the toilet bowl, the sputter of air in the tap, a pump working overtime to no effect. But it still did not prepare her for the night last month when she turned on the tap and discovered the tiny town where she had made her home for 35 years was out of water.

“The day that we ran out of water I turned on my faucet and nothing was there and at that moment I knew the whole of Barnhart was down the tubes,” she said, blinking back tears. “I went: ‘dear God help us. That was the first thought that came to mind.”

Across the south-west, residents of small communities like Barnhart are confronting the reality that something as basic as running water, as unthinking as turning on a tap, can no longer be taken for granted.

Three years of drought, decades of overuse and now the oil industry’s outsize demands on water for fracking are running down reservoirs and underground aquifers. And climate change is making things worse.

The town — a gas station, a community hall and a taco truck – sits in the midst of the great Texan oil rush, on the eastern edge of the Permian Basin.

A few years ago, it seemed like a place on the way out. Now McGuire said she can see nine oil wells from her back porch, and there are dozens of RVs parked outside town, full of oil workers.

But soon after the first frack trucks pulled up two years ago, the well on McGuire’s property ran dry.

Water levels were dropping in his wells because of the vast amounts of water being pumped out of the Edwards-Trinity-Plateau Aquifer, a 34,000 sq mile water-bearing formation.

“They are sucking all of the water out of the ground, and there are just hundreds and hundreds of water trucks here every day bringing fresh water out of the wells,” Owens said.

“If you’re going to develop the oil, you’ve got to have the water,” said Larry Baxter, a contractor from the nearby town of Mertzon, who installed two 20,000-gal tanks on his land earlier this year, hoping to make a business out of his well selling water to oil industry.

By his own estimate, his well could produce enough to fill up 20 or 30 water trucks for the oil industry each day. At $60 (£39.58) a truck, that was $36,000 a month, easily. “I could sell 100 truckloads a day if I was open to it,” Baxter said.

Very briefly (and this will be in my own words with zero research), fracking is a method to create fractures in an otherwise tight oil-bearing geological formation.  Witihout fracking, little or no oil will flow to a well.  With fracking, suddenly the well can become very productive.  Fracking involves pumping fluids (mostly water) down the well at extremely high pressures.  This opens up fractures in the rock.  And then, some sort of sand-like material is also pumped down the wells.  This material (through which oil can readily move) flows into the fractures, and props them open.

According to the American Geosciences Institute, each fracked well requires anywhere from 1.5 to 16 million gallons of water.

Wow.  I had no fracking idea fracking used so much water.  In the spirit of full disclosure, I must say that I’m generally pro-fracking, in spite of environmental concerns (although this high water use pushes me back a little).  I feel like the energy-independence that fracking provides outweighs environmental concerns.  Looking from a national security perspective, it seems really important that the United States can no longer be held hostage for oil imported from a politically unstable (and unfriendly) country.

That said, I’m in favor of a strong government oversight role – to make sure that communities (or individual homeowners) are not negatively impacted – and when they are, to make sure that the frackers do what needs to be done to correct the situation.

Also – one can make the argument that all of this newly-available petroleum lessens the impetus to develop and use alternative energy sources – obviously not good for our ever-warming planet . . .

The article about Barnhart was from 2013.  I wonder how they’re doing now. . . .

The above article mentions that Barnhart is on the eastern edge of the Permian Basin.  “Permian” is the name of a geologic time period (spanning about 50 million years, beginning 300 million years ago).  The Permian Basin is a sequence of mostly Permian-aged sedimentary rocks (limestones, sandstones and shales) that for a variety of reasons I won’t go into, ended up trapping vast quantities of petroleum in various underground geologic nooks and crannies (my terminology) throughout the basin.

From Wiki:

The Permian Basin is the largest petroleum-producing basin in the United States.  The first oil well was drilled to a depth of 2500 in 1921.  As of 2018 the basin has produced a cumulative 33 billion barrels of oil and 118 trillion cubic feet of gas. Currently, nearly 2 million barrels of oil a day are being pumped from the basin.

Rigzone.com reports that fracking in the Permian Basin continues at a torrid pace.  Almost 550 wells were fracked in June 2019.

At about 4 million fracking gallons of water per fracked well, 2.2 billion gallons of fracking water were used in fracking June alone.  Multiplying by 12, we’re up to 25 billion fracking gallons per fracking year.  Thatsafrackinlotta fracking water . . .

I’ll close with this shot posted on GE by Nick Zapiain:


That’ll do it . . .




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