Oil Theft in the Eagle Ford Shale

Oil field theft is not new, but with the rapid development in the Eagle Ford Shale, the opportunity for extensive and pervasive theft has expanded.  Today’s article in the San Antonio Business Journal highlights the impact that such theft has on not just the companies from whom the oil was stolen, but also the community as a whole.  Indications from law enforcement and oilfield history are that this is far from an isolated case.  However, oil field theft in South Texas is a new challenge for law enforcement and investigative agencies have to learn how to combat this type of crime.

In the indictment, United States Attorney Robert Pitman stated that, “The vast expanse of the Eagle Ford Shale and the high level of oil and gas drilling and production in the area provide many opportunities for those inclined to cheat and steal.”

Theft of gas and oil from PEMEX by Mexican drug cartels is well-documented and continues unabated.  The significance of Eagle Ford’s location in the Mexican cartels’ backyard, cannot be underestimated.  The once remote and undeveloped landscape has now become a regular path for drugs and human trafficking. The collocation of organized oilfield theft and cartel smuggling activities mutually exploit the vulnerabilities of the region.

This confluence presents a unique set of challenges for security personnel.  Risk professionals must take an interdisciplinary approach with cooperation and collaboration by government, landowners and industry.  Butchko, Inc. has been active in and has studied this area closely for the past two years and is exploring ways to bring key stakeholders together to provide creative solutions to the complex issues at play in the region.