RRC Holiday Closure

In observance of the 4th of July Holiday, the Railroad Commission of Texas will be closed Monday, July 3 and Tuesday, July 4. The agency will reopen for business on Wednesday, July 5.

Barnett Shale Information

What is the Barnett Shale?

The Barnett Shale is a hydrocarbon-producing geological formation of great economic significance to Texas. It consists of sedimentary rocks and the productive part of the formation is estimated to stretch from the city of Dallas west and south, covering 5,000 square miles (13,000 km²) and at least 18 counties.

Some experts say that the Barnett Shale is the largest onshore natural gas field in the United States. The field name for the productive portion of the Barnett Shale formation has been designated as the Newark, East Field by the Texas Railroad Commission.


Drilling Permits Issued
Texas Barnett Shale Total Natural Gas Production
Texas Barnett Shale Oil Production
Texas Barnett Shale Condensate Production
Production Data Query 
- provides production data by lease, field, county and operator.

History of the Barnett Shale

John W. Barnett settled in the San Saba County during late 19th century and named a local stream the Barnett Stream. In the early 20th century during a mapping exercise, geologists noted a thick black organic-rich shale in an outcrop close to the stream and named it the Barnett Shale.

The Barnett Shale has acted as an important source and sealing cap rock for conventional oil and gas reservoirs in the area. It was thought that only a few of the thicker sections close to Fort Worth would support economic drilling. It was not until the 1980's with new advances in horizontal drilling and well fracturing technology used by Mitchell Energy, a small independent, that the potential of the Barnett Shale was realized. Significant drilling activity did not begin until gas prices increased in the late 1990's. Devon Energy acquired Mitchell Energy in 2002, and has established itself as the leading producer from the Barnett Shale. The success that independents have had in producing from the Barnett Shale is beginning to attract the interest of the large majors, like Exxon.

Counties Affected

Texas Counties with Producing Wells and Contact Information

Core Counties
Non-Core Counties

Palo Pinto

Benefits of Natural Gas

Natural gas is a relatively clean burning energy source. Producing additional domestic natural gas may reduce dependence on foreign energy sources. For more information about natural gas, please visit the United States Department of Energy, Natural Gas home page.

Economic Benefits

Barnett Shale gas production provides economic benefits to individuals, local governmental entities and the state in the form of: bonus payments and royalty income directly to cities, school districts and others; new tax base, various permits and fees payable to local governments, other types of levies such as hotel/motel occupancy taxes; new jobs, new service companies and enhanced economic development. Cleaner burning Texas natural resources.

What does the Railroad Commission NOT have jurisdiction over and who to contact?

The Railroad Commission does not have jurisdiction over roads, traffic, noise, odors, leases, pipeline easements, or royalty payments.

Roads and Traffic: The Railroad Commission does not have jurisdiction over, and exercises no regulatory authority with respect to, private or public roads or road use.  Permits issued by the Commission for oil and gas exploration, production, and waste disposal do not limit any independent authority of a municipality, county or other state agencies with respect to road use. For more information concerning local ordinances in the Barnett Shale, please visit the City Ordinances section of the Barnett Shale Energy Education Council web site or for other areas of the state, please visit the Texas Online portal for links to cities and counties in Texas.

The Texas Department of Transportation oversees the construction and maintenance of state highways within their jurisdiction. In addition, TXDOT is responsible for issuing access permits to well sites from a roadway on the state highway system. Please review letter for specific access permit requirements. To contact the appropriate district office, please visit the Texas Department of Transportation, Local Information web site.

Noise: The Commission has no statutory authority over noise or nuisance related issues. Noise and nuisance related issues would be governed by local ordinances. For more information concerning local ordinances in the Barnett Shale, please visit the City Ordinances section of the Barnett Shale Energy Education Council web site or for other areas of the state, please visit the Texas Online portal for links to cities and counties in Texas.

Odors and Air Contaminants: The Railroad Commission does not have regulatory authority over odors or air contaminants. However, for a well within the city limits, the city may enact ordinances regarding odors or other nuisances. In addition, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has jurisdiction over odor and air contaminants. Please see http://www.tceq.state.tx.us/compliance/complaints/odor_complaint.html and http://www.tceq.state.tx.us/implementation/barnettshale/bshale-viewer for more information about how to file odor complaints and obtain information about air contaminants.

Oil and Gas Exploration and Surface Ownership: For general information pertaining to exploration and surface ownership, please visit the Oil and Gas Exploration and Surface Ownership webpage.

Royalty payments: For general information pertaining to leases and royalties, please visit the General Information Pertaining to Leases and Royalties webpage.

Last Updated: 12/1/2016 2:29:21 PM