Barnett Shale drilling permits fall to lowest in a decade

HOUSTON — Shale drilling activity in North Texas has fallen to its lowest point in about a decade, according to state data.

The Texas Railroad Commission issued 827 drilling permits for the Barnett Shale region during the first 11 months of 2013, a steep decline from the 4,065 permits issued in all of 2008.

The regulatory agency hasn’t issued fewer than 1,000 permits for the Barnett Shale in a full year since 2003.

North Texas saw a surge of new natural gas drilling with the launch of shale drilling, which was spurred by advancements in oil field technology including hydraulic fracturing. However, the shale boom has unleashed a wealth of natural gas on the U.S. market, causing the commodity’s price to plummet in recent years. As a result, producers have curbed drilling in gas-heavy regions like the Barnett Shale.

The Barnett Shale encompasses Tarrant County, Denton County, Wise County and surrounding areas.