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Devon and Chesapeake are top ranked companies in Barnett Shale production

Oklahoma City-based Devon Energy, the eighth-largest oil and gas producer in the United States based on total assets and stockholder equity, ranks as the top producer in Texas' Barnett Shale. Devon is an active participant in several shale plays, and the company's production mix is about two-thirds natural gas and one-third oil and natural gas liquids, such as propane, butane, and ethane. Devon produces more than 2.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day, about 3% of all the gas consumed in North America.

Another Oklahoma City company, Chesapeake Energy, came in a strong second. Chesapeake is also a major player in a number of unconventional resource plays and is the No. 1 ranked producer in the Haynesville Shale. In 2009, France's Total signed a joint venture agreement with Chesapeake in the Barnett, whereby Total acquired a 25% interest in Chesapeake's upstream assets, and Total will fund up to 60% of the JV's drilling and completion costs.

A Barnett well is drilled in the shadow of downtown Fort Worth.

Fort Worth-based XTO Energy, recently acquired by Exxon Mobil Corp., comes in third, followed by Houston's EOG Resources in fourth place. EOG is also active in numerous resource plays, and is No. 1 in the Bakken Shale. Quicksilver Resources, also based in Fort Worth, rounds out the top five Barnett producers.

The State of Texas recently proposed new rules for shale gas drilling, and it is not yet known how these rules, if implemented, will impact companies operating in the Barnett Shale. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has formally proposed beefing up regulations on oil and gas drilling in the Barnett Shale region, part of which is heavily urbanized.

The rules are meant to strengthen technical drilling requirements and oversight of the oil and gas facilities. Many wells and other facilities are near built-up residential and commercial areas in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.

TCEQ has been accused of having weak regulations, contributing to air pollution. The state agency currently has four monitors that measure pollution in areas that have a lot of drilling. Hourly results are posted on an agency website. The commission plans to install three additional monitors.

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