As development in the liquids-rich Eagle Ford Shale of South Texas continues to expand, the task force formed earlier this year to address residents' and industry's concerns Wednesday issued recommendations related to truck traffic and pipeline development.

"We are seeing an overwhelming increase in traffic in these small communities and citizens are concerned, so we brought together the trucking industry, oil and gas industry, state and local government and the general public to engage in a productive dialogue, and as a result, we were able to come up with real, tangible solutions," said Commissioner David Porter of the Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC), who created the task force (see Shale Daily, July 29).

The task force said it supports trucking companies partnering with the Texas Department of Public Safety to develop a program that would alert companies when their drivers receive moving violations or drivers license suspensions. It also supports the creation of road use agreements or trucking plans between operators and local authorities that would require operators to avoid peak traffic hours or when school buses are running. The task force also recommended that operators establish "overnight quiet periods" for trucking activities.

According to NGI's Shale Daily Unconventional Rig Count, activity in the Eagle Ford is up by 60% from a year ago. As of Oct. 7 there were 213 rigs running in the Eagle Ford, up 2% from 208 a week prior and up from 133 rigs a year ago.

Also on the task force agenda was pipeline infrastructure. Currently, billion of dollars worth of pipeline projects are under development in the region (see Shale Daily, Sept. 29).

"The construction of a 20-inch [diameter] crude oil line running 50 miles through a county can take the place of 1,250 tank truck trips per day, so it is imperative that we get these pipes in the ground; however, we must ensure local communities are protected," said Porter. "Our task force members, including representatives of pipeline companies, have agreed upon guidelines that will hold the pipeline industry accountable."

The task force said placement of pipelines should avoid steep hillsides and watercourses where feasible and routes should take advantage of road corridors to minimize surface disturbance. When clearing is necessary, the width disturbed should be kept to a minimum and topsoil material should be stockpiled to the side because retaining topsoil for replacement during reclamation can significantly accelerate successful revegetation, the task force said.