Elon Musk Drilling Gas Wells in Texas!

Guest “I was wrong about this guy” by David Middleton

SpaceX Plans to Drill for Natural Gas Near Texas Launchpad
Sergio Chapa
Jan 23 2021

(Bloomberg) — Elon Musk recently moved to Texas, where he launches some of his rockets and is building a battery factory. Now, for good measure, he plans to drill for natural gas in the state.

The billionaire’s SpaceX intends to drill wells close to the company’s Boca Chica launchpad, it was revealed during a Friday hearing before the Railroad Commission of Texas, the state’s energy regulator.

Production has yet to start because of a legal dispute between the SpaceX subsidiary Lone Star Mineral Development and another energy company. Tim George, an attorney representing Lone Star, said at the hearing that SpaceX plans to use the methane it extracts from the ground “in connection with their rocket facility operations.”

While it’s unclear what exactly the gas would be used for, SpaceX plans to utilize super-chilled liquid methane and liquid oxygen as fuel for its Raptor engines. The company’s Starship and Super Heavy vehicles are tested at Boca Chica, and orbital launches are planned for the site.



Frac on Elon!

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January 25, 2021 10:15 am

Well, they don’t have to sell all of their remaining tax credits.

January 25, 2021 10:19 am

It won’t be long before he uses his own gas to power his battery factory. He should be smart enough to see where the price of electricity is going and his battery factory will require a lot of it.

Ron Long
January 25, 2021 10:37 am

Liquid methane and liquid oxygen as rocket fuel? Large amounts of heat AND CO2 into the atmosphere? That’s it, Musk is trying to poison earth and sell rides to Mars at exorbitant prices!

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Ron Long
January 25, 2021 11:07 am

Kerosene (diesel) fuel and LOX is a much better, higher density rocket fuel source and easier to engineer for. And safety is probably the biggest advantage for kerosene+LOX rather than LNG+LOX.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
January 25, 2021 5:13 pm

Kerosene (actually RP-1, a purified kerosene) has been used for stage 1 boosters because of its high energy density. I think if Saturn V used H2 as fuel the first stage would have been almost as tall as the Saturn V.

Size is less a concern for upper stages and smaller rockets and rockets that use the fall-away solid boosters so H2 is preferred as it achieves the highest efficiency and specific impulse performance, after the boosters are ejected.

I suspect LNG is a tradeoff between these two and was deemed to be not quite energy-dense enough for a large stage one (and the need for cryogenic handling and insulation tipped the scales further) and not quite as efficient as using H2 for the upper stages.

As to why SpaceX is interested in using LNG, It seems to have to do with the Mars mission. They think it is possible to make methane fuel on Mars so maybe that has something to do with it. But also methane has higher specific impulse than JP-1 and easier to store than LH2 (lower cryro temps, no hydrogen imbrittlement) and also burns cleaner than JP-1 (important for engines that start/stop a lot and get re-used). Ref: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liquid_rocket_propellant#Methane

I suspect LNG might make sense for interplanetary missions that are fueled from an orbital space station. Its tradeoffs may work to its advantage there.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  menace
January 25, 2021 6:46 pm

I knew that about Saturn 5. Nothing on the chemical rocket fuel side has changed in 50 years. Nothing. A solids, while dependable and storable and make good strap-ons, are not “throttleable” (is that a word?).

Rory Forbes
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
January 25, 2021 11:32 pm

To guide writers into writing clearly and truthfully, George Orwell proposed the following six rules:

  1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
  2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
  3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
  4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
  5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
  6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

I suggest your new word fits nicely under rule #6 … I knew exactly what you meant.

Reply to  Ron Long
January 25, 2021 4:53 pm

What does his Environmental Impact Statement say that he is using?? 🙂

Reply to  Ron Long
January 30, 2021 10:08 am

While taking advantage of taxpayers and competitors with subsidies for his electric cards. ??? !!!

pHil R
January 25, 2021 10:51 am

Good thing he didn’t move to New York. Still no Fracking there…

Reply to  pHil R
January 26, 2021 12:07 pm

Yes. But NY State is still allowing new Gas power stations to run with gas piped from Pennsylvania shale fields

Rory Forbes
January 25, 2021 11:02 am

I find it very amusing that so many people believe that fracking is some kind of recent innovation in the oil and gas industry. It’s been known since the 1860s and widely used world wide since the 1940s … for oil, gas and WATER wells. It is extremely beneficial to the environment since it improves overall efficiency.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Rory Forbes
January 25, 2021 11:24 am

The modern iteration of fracturing is new. Along a precisely drilled horizontal drill stem through a 50 m to 200m thick shale deposit and the use of propants (carefully selected sands) to computerized 3D seismic surveying to make it all possible. New technologies. Not just “old style” fracking the bottom of a conventional well.

Rory Forbes
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
January 25, 2021 12:50 pm

And? Improvements in old technologies aren’t necessarily bad. You sort of missed the point I made. Everything comes with a cost.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
January 25, 2021 1:08 pm

No, not new technologies, Joel. Horizontal fracking has existed for ~40 years. Horizontal drilling has existed for ~50. Oil field 3D seismic surveys have existed for ~55. The use of proppants has existed for ~75. Vertical well fracking has indeed existed for ~150 years.

Reply to  meab
January 25, 2021 5:23 pm

I remember looking at a educational diagram at OK City capitol grounds (there were oil wells on the grounds) when I was a kid in 1976 showing directional drilling as a relatively new technology – not quite horizontal yet but showing they could cover large areas from a single drilling site. I’m sure it wasn’t long after that that they were achieving true horizontal drilling.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  menace
January 25, 2021 7:00 pm

Directional drilling is a lot different than turning a drill stem 90º 5,000 feet down a hole and following a precise 50 meter thick shale formation for 2 more kilometers, and then shock/fracking with proppant injection back along that line every 50 to 200 meters.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
January 25, 2021 11:45 pm

In a prior life in 1981 I worked as a cementer for Haliburton. We fracked a deep well with so much sand, water and proppent that it took every pump truck and man in the yard to be on site. It was a world record sized frack job at the time. I forget how many millions of pounds of frack sand and water we used but the numbers were enormous. Among other proppents we used tiny metal ball bearings. They came in 50 pound bags and had to be cut open and dumped on a conveyor belt. It was only a one stage job but we pumped at high pressure for 2 hours or so. They still use frack sand, water and lots of proppent. The main difference now is the number of stages. Most have multiple stages to each frack job. The design has changed a bit but the pumping and materials used has stayed much the same.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  meab
January 25, 2021 6:51 pm

Yeah, because oil field engineers were fracking shale in the 1970’s in response to the Arab oil embargo.

Joel O'Bryan
January 25, 2021 11:04 am

Letting rocket companies be rocket companies, and gas drilling-fracking companies be gas drilling-fracking companies seems to me to be the prudent business decision not to get diversified outside on one’s business skillset.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
January 26, 2021 1:07 am

Large corporations don’t have skill sets beyond acquiring other companies in order to pursue their interests.

Captain Climate
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
January 26, 2021 5:49 am

Like all Musk promises, it will either not occur and is just used as a pump to the stock, OR there is an alternate reason for saying it, like he needs to keep the tunnel to Mexico he’s built hidden. I mean, did anyone really think he bought a tunnel boring machine to build a subway? Any idea why he and his board member’s planes are constantly flying between Texas, Mexico, Colorado and LA/SF? Trafficking women? Cash? Drugs? How does hundreds of millions in scrap just disappear off his factory and he fires the security manager who spotted/investigated it. So far the guy has promised battery swapping in minutes rather than charging, Roadster 2, a Semi, a “Cybertruck,” a flying car (no joke), solar panels on his factory (something he still hasn’t done). The guy is a huckster and fraud, but people are so gullible.


Matthew Schilling
Reply to  Captain Climate
January 26, 2021 10:56 am

Well, I for one am still waiting for him to actually launch a rocket!
Oh wait…

Jame P
January 25, 2021 11:27 am

Love him or hate him I have to admit Elon has the personality to be a Texan.

Captain climate
January 25, 2021 12:02 pm

It’s more likely that Elon Musk’s drug tunnel to Mexico has been discovered and he needs to pretend to drill for gas rather than have it discovered by someone else snooping on his land for with mineral rights.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Captain climate
January 25, 2021 6:55 pm

With Tesla’s run-up in stock price, Elon could buyout every drug cartel in Mexico.

Captain Climate
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
January 26, 2021 5:43 am

Yes, on paper. But of course, the reason he doesn’t use any of his stock to acquire anyone is that it would tank the stock, and he’s already leveraged loans against his stock position. Tesla is one giant Ponzi scheme which has never made a dime on selling cars, and his scrap business is entirely designed to launder money for the Mexican cartels. He’s an endless pumping machine, but natural gas? That’s a new one.

Bill Rocks
Reply to  Captain Climate
January 26, 2021 7:28 am

Captain Climate
You say he has a scrap business? Tell us more. What kind of scrap?

Reply to  Captain climate
January 26, 2021 2:04 pm

Now that was f’n funny.

January 25, 2021 3:28 pm

Let’s see how long the Socialist/Marxists let him exercise his entrepreneurship. He already exited California to get away from their ideology only to find it’s overtaking the country.

Rory Forbes
Reply to  markl
January 25, 2021 11:40 pm

It’s overtaking most of the world … and it was the Democrat sell-outs and globalist elites who virtually provided China with the means by taking over US manufacturing and now entertainment industries. Until January 20 … there wasn’t much more than Trump and his followers to slow China’s rapid advances. Now what?

Reply to  markl
January 26, 2021 6:17 am

The Biden administration is neither Socialist or Marxist: it is a centre right govt.

Reply to  griff
January 26, 2021 7:00 am

griffy – your stupidity is showing again. Go read Orwell and Huxley.

John Endicott
Reply to  DrEd
January 26, 2021 8:11 am

DrEd, you have to remember, when you are as far out left as griffy, even the radical far left is considered somewhere to the right.

As for your reading suggestions, people like griffy already think of Orwell as a how to guide.

Emily Daniels
Reply to  John Endicott
January 27, 2021 5:19 am

So true. No joke, I was watching a live stream where a Brit advised the Americans to vote as far left as possible (a primary was coming up). One of the Americans said, “In America, that’s a moderate.” I just about fell out of my chair. We literally have card-carrying socialists like Bernie Sanders in office, and that’s not far enough left for these West Coast people?

Reply to  griff
January 26, 2021 8:06 am

griff is so far to the left, that he thinks Mao was a moderate.

Matthew Schilling
Reply to  griff
January 26, 2021 10:58 am

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Must… catch… my… breath… bwah ha ha ha ha ha ha!

Reply to  markl
January 26, 2021 12:22 pm

Hasnt left California , Tesla Fremont plant is the largest US car factory

John Endicott
Reply to  Duker
January 27, 2021 2:11 am

Elon, as the previous poster stated, has – he is now a resident of Texas. Tesla, on the other hand, hasn’t … yet. It currently still has, as you point out, a factory in Cali. It’s easier for a man to move from one state to another than it is for a factory to do so. (factories don’t just appear and disappear overnight, it takes time). Perhaps once the new plant Tesla is building in Texas is up and running, Elon will consider whether it’s worth it to still have that Cali plant, he’s certainly not going to close it down until he’s got a working replacement for it.

January 25, 2021 5:17 pm

When you got US$189,000,000,000 I guess pretty much anything legal is within your power to dabble in. E. Musk has now passed the renown billionaire Bill Gates in the American net worth bonanza.

January 25, 2021 8:42 pm

In August of next year, one of Elon’s SpaceX rockets will be launched to observe Psyche 13, (an asteroid containing an estimated $10,000 quadrillion worth of iron and precious metals (about the size of Massachusetts), and will start orbiting the asteroid from January 2026.

Leftists working to ban fossil fuels and insanely wasting $trillions on global Green New Deal projects will delay the development of new incredible industries such as space mining…

Leftists are clueless on the unintended consequences of their terrible policies.

Reply to  SAMURAI
January 26, 2021 1:09 am

Or are they clueless, really?

Reply to  AndyHce
January 26, 2021 8:48 am

Leftists are both clueless and evil…

Not a very beneficial combination…

The Leftist elites who’ll be in power in the Brave New World know the end game, but the people who vote for their own enslavement are truly clueless..

Reply to  SAMURAI
January 26, 2021 12:24 pm

More ridiculous fact free nonsense from the letter Q

Reply to  Duker
January 27, 2021 5:08 am


Try reading some history and BAC is economics….

BTW, the 5 jerks who actually believe the Qanon BS are complete nutters… It’s absolutely hilarious Lefties think these 5 dudes will takeover the US…

You’re delusional…

Writing Observer
January 25, 2021 10:01 pm

While it’s unclear what exactly the gas would be used for, SpaceX plans to utilize super-chilled liquid methane and liquid oxygen as fuel

Do the people at Bloomberg have any idea what natural gas is primarily MADE of? Or are all of their editors Harvard grads?

January 26, 2021 6:57 am

Hydro carbon fuels are still the most viable way of generating large amounts of electrons. Renewables can never do it. Nuclear is incorrectly considered unsafe, and Dams are also labeled as unacceptable to environmentalists.

January 26, 2021 1:47 pm

Some of the commenters here would do well to to do a little research before mouthing off.
Musk’s Starships and Super heavy boosters being manufactured on the production process at Boca Chica run on liquid methane and liquid oxygen. The largest component of natural gas is methane which can be separated out fairly easily and he’ll likely burn some of the methane and separated components to run a plant to make liquid oxygen. All quite logical and in line with SpaceX’s vertical integration.
Why methane? The rocket engines are reusable and methane does not have the coking problems that RP-1 has. It is the next best fuel to liquid hydrogen which is difficult to handle and isn’t used unless necessary.
Musk just bought two semi-submersible offshore oil rigs also probably as offshore launch and landing platforms. I wouldn’t bet against them also being connected to gas wells offshore.
For more go to http://www.nasaspaceflight.com and go to the forums section dealing with SpaceX and specifically Starship and Super Heavy.
One more thing: Musk wants Mars. You can use energy + CO2 + water to manufacture liquid methane and liquid oxygen on Mars. RP-1 is much more difficult as we know of no Martian oil wells.

Tom Abbott
January 26, 2021 4:29 pm

From the article: “(Bloomberg) — Elon Musk recently moved to Texas, where he launches some of his rockets and is building a battery factory. Now, for good measure, he plans to drill for natural gas in the state.

The billionaire’s SpaceX intends to drill wells close to the company’s Boca Chica launchpad, it was revealed during a Friday hearing before the Railroad Commission of Texas, the state’s energy regulator.”

That’s funny! I just heard talking head Harold Ford, former Democrat representative, say on Fox News, how smart he thought Elon Musk was because he was building electric cars and launching spaceships and was having nothing to do with fossil fuels.

Now we see Elon is going into the drilling business!

Harold Ford was interviewed on Fox News last week and in the background of his house, you could see he had a picture of the Chinese Dictator Mao hanging on his wall behind him.

The picture has subsequently disappeared from later appearances.

Now why would a former Democrat representative have a picture of Mao in a position of prominence in his home?

I used to think Harold Ford had a little bit of sense, but I’m not so sure now.

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