Among the nation's shales, the Barnett is long in tooth but not short on gas. And as it turns out, the North Texas play hasn't weakened in its ability to throw off dollars to communities in the region either.

"Even with the recession and the drop in [natural] gas prices, the production and job levels have remained stable and provide ongoing benefits to the region and the state," said Ray Perryman, president of The Perryman Group, which just released a new study on the Barnett's economic impact, which was commissioned by the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce. "The energy produced from the Barnett Shale is an important domestic fuel source for the nation with significant strategic and economic value.

"Exploration activity for both natural gas and oil is likely to increase in the future as price and global market conditions change. A number of things could move the numbers upward: greater LNG [liquefied natural gas] capacity development, infrastructure to allow more uses for natural gas, higher CNG [compressed natural gas] fleet usage, global demand, volatile foreign political situations, tighter emission regulations for utilities and technology breakthroughs."

Perryman found that Barnett Shale activity contributes $11.8 billion in gross product per year and more than 107,650 permanent jobs. While production has remained stable, the annual gross product has increased by $700 million since Perryman's last study, which was conducted in 2011 and found $11.1 billion in annual gross product (see Shale Daily, Sept. 28, 2011).

The 25-county Barnett region, government entities enjoy annual tax receipts of $480.6 million, thanks to the play, according to Perryman. The state gets another $644.7 million. "For the state as a whole, the current impact of the Barnett Shale is estimated to be $12.8 billion in annual gross product and about 115,000 permanent jobs. The tax receipts statewide include $517.3 million to local governments and $686.3 million annually," the firm said.

"Natural gas exploration and production continues to provide massive benefits in terms of tax revenues, jobs, payroll and personal income throughout the North Texas region," said Fort Worth Chamber CEO Bill Thornton. "Hundreds of companies based here -- either those in the energy industry or that provide services to the industry -- are growing their employment levels again."

Since 2001, Perryman estimated that nearly 40% of incremental growth in the regional economy has been the result of Barnett Shale activity.

More than 15 Tcf of natural gas has been produced from about 18,000 wells in the Barnett since 2001, up 66% from 9 Tcf in 2011, according to Perryman. "In other words, it took 10 years to produce 9 Tcf but only three years to produce another 6 Tcf. Natural gas continues to flow from thousands of wells, although only 19 rigs were operating in the Barnett as of September 1, 2014."

According to company reports and NGI calculations, Devon Energy holds the largest Barnett net acreage position with 613,000 acres, followed by EOG Resources with 298,000 acres. Rounding out the top five are ExxonMobil (230,000), Chesapeake Energy (220,000) and ConocoPhillips (147,000).

While the Barnett Shale covers about 5,000 square miles, about 84% of the jobs it creates are concentrated in four core counties: Denton, Johnson, Tarrant and Wise. Meanwhile in the city of Denton, residents are slated to vote Nov. 4 on a measure that would ban hydraulic fracturing within the city (see Shale Daily, July 16).