Drilling has begun in earnest atop the formation, which lies several thousand feet underground and stretches for 400 miles beneath 24 counties in South and Central Texas.The center will release its full updated report in April, including details about the 14 most active Eagle Ford counties and the impact on six counties which lie outside the drilling area.
Producers drilled 21.8 million barrels of oil in 2011, more than twice the admittedly conservative predicted amount of about 8.6 million, said Thomas Tunstall, director of the Center for Community and Business Research at the University of Texas at San Antonio.
Tunstall announced the figures Friday at the final day of the Eagle Ford Consortium's inaugural conference in San Antonio, which is looking at sustainability options for communities impacted by the oil and gas boom.
Production of condensate, or gaseous products that liquefy once brought to the surface, hit about 18.7 million barrels in 2011 compared to the center's admittedly conservative projection of 5.6 million barrels.
About 221 billion cubic feet of natural gas was drilled in 2011, compared with predictions of 122 billion cubic feet.
The center's tentative forecast calls for activity to possibly peak at about 2,500 new wells drilled per year between 2014 and 2016.
The new well activity could gradually tail off after that point, with a total of 25,000 wells drilled by several years after that date — thousands more if rigs are spaced closer together, Tunstall said.
Economic benefits include a rise in bank deposits across the Eagle Ford region to $16 billion in 2011, up from $14 billion in 2008, the study shows.