Marcellus Shale When it comes to generating excitement within the industry, the Marcellus has led the pack for some time now. Located beneath much of the Northeast U.S., the play has been largely responsible for a huge bump in Pennsylvania gas production from 3.6 Bcf/d in 2011 to 6.1 Bcf/d in 2012, according to EIA data. This is despite a significant drop in total natural gas well starts.
However, seven projects expected online in 2013 and 2014 would provide 2.4 Bcf/d in new capacity to the Marcellus: Tennessee Gas Pipeline’s northeast upgrade. In its new biennial report, nonprofit Potential Gas Committee’s (PGC) estimated the U.S. Atlantic region, which includes the Marcellus, holds about one-third of the nation’s shale gas – 741.32 Tcf. The whopping 110% increase of 384.72 Bcf in the region since 2010 was attributed “almost entirely to re-evaluation of the Appalachian shale gases – primarily the Marcellus.” However, it also included the Utica Shale, which was assessed by PGC for the first time. While calling the re-evaluated numbers “surprising and quite upside,” Warlick said it is important to remember Marcellus drilling is taking place almost exclusively in Pennsylvania, but the shale itself extends well into New York, Ohio and West Virginia.
“While drilling in New York is essentially nil, the potential for the Marcellus is translated over the extent of the shale, so it gave support for this upward revision,” Warlick said.
The Devonian Age shale covers 104,067 square miles with a potential for 90,216 wells, according to EIA.
Haynesville Shale In 2011, Haynesville Shale in Louisiana surpassed the Barnett Shale in Texas as the nation’s highest producing shale gas play based on reported pipeline flows, according EIA. Vertical drilling had been in use at Haynesville since 1905, but not until the introduction of horizontal drilling had the formation been considered a key gas source.
Earlier experience gained from horizontal programs at the Barnett played a major role in Haynesville, allowing producers to ramp up natural gas production as quickly as they did. Based on reported flows, it took about 10 years of shale-focused drilling to reach 5 Bcf/d at the Barnett — a mark surpassed at the Haynesville within three years while using many fewer wells.
The 9,320-square-mile play, which EIA estimates has 75 Tcf in shale gas resources with a potential for 65,860 wells, has been buoyed by the addition of fairly new regional infrastructure, including the completion of pipeline capacity expansions on the Regency, Midcon Express and Gulf Crossing systems.
Barnett Shale Until the Haynesville came along, the mature Barnett Shale had been the leading shale gas producer for a decade, having become viable with the advent of horizontal drilling. As a “tight” gas reserve, the Barnett has seen operators refocus more on liquids-rich areas of the play as gas prices stay relatively low.
The Barnett lies beneath Fort Worth and extends as far as West Texas, encompassing at least 17 counties. It is estimated to have 43.4 Tcf of shale gas technically recoverable resources (TRR), according to EIA. Bakken Shale Much like the Barnett, Bakken Shale drilling activity built up gradually and eventually led to rapid growth, accelerating 71% to 594,000 bpd in year-over-year June comparisons of the past two years, according to EIA data. The 200,000-square-mile play in the Williston Basin now accounts for 90% of North Dakota’s oil production.
Not surprisingly, the production gains in the Bakken have been spurred by accelerated development, most notably horizontal drilling combined with hydraulic fracking. The North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources reported a total of 4,141 producing wells in the state’s Bakken region, an increase of 4% between May and June 2012. For the same period, the Williston Basin had a weekly average of 209 active horizontal rigs — most of those are positioned in the Bakken. Bakken production, which averaged a little more than 2,000 bpd in 2000, grew to average more than 260,000 bpd in 2010 with horizontal wells accounted for nearly 90% of total 2010 volumes.
Fayetteville Shale Located in the Arkoma Basin of Arkansas, the recently developed 5,853-square-mile shale play has proved to be a profitable one for both oil and gas companies. With TRR of 13,240 Bcf and the potential for 10,181wells, the Fayetteville contains shale gas resources of 32 Tcf, according to EIA.
Woodford Shale Although gas production in Oklahoma’s Woodford Shale began in 1939, there were only 24 gas wells in the region as recently as 2004. However, by 2008, there were more than 750 gas wells in the Woodford, which flourished when horizontal wells swept the play. Production in the 6,350-square-mile Woodford has been in decline in recent years, but EIA’s 2012 outlook showed shale gas resources of 22 Tcf with a potential for 5,428 and 3,796 wells in its Arkoma and Anadarko Basin locations, respectively.
Notable Shale Plays • The Utica Shale, which lies beneath New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and parts of Canada, continues to have a vast amount natural gas and liquids to offer with BENTEK anticipating an average annual production increase of 340% to 330 MMcf/d for 2013 and 399 MMcf/d for 2014. With Chesapeake Energy and Devon Energy having put Utica land up for sale recently, some analysts see this as a sign the Utica will evolve into more of a gas play than oil play.
To a large extent, severe infrastructure restraints have left producers somewhat in limbo. However, considerable relief in the form of several projects is near at hand. One of the biggest, the Utica East Ohio Buckeye, is expected online shortly and will have an initial capacity of 600 MMcf/d to go along with NGL storage capacity of 870,000 bbl and fractionation capacity of 90,000 bbl/d.
However, as Bridgers sees it, companies are already working aggressively to get facilities online and the political environment is good in the region. “Both Pennsylvania and Ohio have been very encouraging of this type (shale-related) of exploration and production,” he said. “The processing plants are part of that exploration and production activity, and they are going to be very supportive of that as well.”
• Antrim Shale is located in the Michigan Basin at a relatively shallow depth of about 1,000 feet. Vertical wells have dominated the play for decades and horizontal drilling is not common. EIA estimated the play has 20 Tcf of shale gas resources in reserve.
• Caney Shale in the Arkoma Basin of Oklahoma has only recently been developed, following success in the Barnett Shale. In its 2012 outlook, EIA estimated 29% of the 2,890-square-mile area had the potential to support 3,369 wells.
• Gothic Shale is a new shale formation development located in the Paradox Basin of Colorado. So far, only a few wells have been drilled. Bill Barrett Corp. has reported rates in the play of between 1.5 MMcf/d and 4.9 MMcf/d, estimating 58 Bcf gas-in-place per section in the Gothic Shale based on core.
• New Albany Shale is in the Illinois Basin and has been the site of gas drilling for more than a century. Most wells are shallow, between 120 feet and 2,100 feet deep. New drilling methods and other improved technologies have combined with higher natural gas prices, causing some producers to take renewed interest in old leases and drill new wells. EIA estimates New Albany Shale gas resources at 11 Tcf.