The following is Warlick’s brief summary of the major players in each of the leading shale plays:
Also called the Cana Woodford, the Anadarko-Woodford is a growing crude and liquids play in West-Central Oklahoma running up within the Anadarko basin. Devon Energy is the unchallenged leader here, accounting for more than 40% of all drilling activity. Four other companies follow with another 40% or so of new wells including Cimarex Energy, Continental Resources, Marathon, and ExxonMobil. It’s a relatively deep horizontal play with depths ranging from 11,500 to 14,500 feet. Average drilling and completion costs/well can be ~ $8.5 million.
The Bakken shale play is one of the biggest oil discoveries in recent history. Long known since the early days of drilling in the Williston basin, the Bakken shale was largely ignored until technology came along to make it economic to develop. Since then, it has become a huge success. Seven E&P companies will account for about 65% of Bakken drilling this year. In rank order they are: Continental Resources, Hess, Whiting Petroleum, Statoil/Brigham, Oasis Petroleum, Marathon, and EOG Resources. At present, Continental and Hess are together running ~ 40 rigs. Each is developing ways to become more efficient and reduce drilling days/well to somewhere in the mid-20s. These wells will be around 10,000-foot TVD and cost over $9 million each.
About 400 miles in length and stretching from Southwest Texas into East Texas, the Eagle Ford shale is a very interesting play with oil, liquids, and dry gas windows with 60% to 70% carbonate content and a more brittle geology that’s good for fracturing. Four companies account for around 45% of all drilling here: Chesapeake Energy, EOG, Conoco Phillips, and Marathon. But there are other very aggressive players including Pioneer, Anadarko, Talisman/Statoil, and BHP (which paid $12 billion for Petrohawk and gained significant Eagle Ford holdings). Most are drilling $6.5 million to $7 million wells with focus on the Eagle Ford’s oil and liquids windows.
A collection of several “wash plays” in the Texas-Oklahoma Panhandle are alluvial placers formed by mineral particles and deposits set down by ancient streams, involving a number of stacked oil and gas formations at depths of 11,000-15,000 feet. Chesapeake, Apache, and Linn Energy lead all players in the Granite Wash, drilling more than six of 10 wells here while Devon and Forest follow. These wells can have up to 15 frac stages (at least at this time) and cost $7.5 million to $8 million each.
Most Marcellus shale wells are in Pennsylvania, with about 8 of 10 wells focused on natural gas. Range Resources and a few others are leading wet play development in the southwestern corner of the state. TVDs are around 6,300 feet with horizontals costing around $5.3 million. Busy players include Anadarko (with their Mitsui JV), Chesapeake and their associated JV with Statoil, then comes Range, Shell (which bought into the Marcellus by paying KKR $4.7 billion for East Resources), and then Chevron via their $4.3 billion acquisition of Atlas Energy. A plus for the Marcellus is its location adjacent to the biggest gas-consuming region in the country.
The Niobrara formation is located in a corner of the Rockies involving Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas, and Nebraska. Most activity today is in the northeastern corner of Colorado within the Denver-Julesburg basin. Noble Energy is the hands-down leader with more than 440,000 net acres in leasehold, drilling almost one in three wells here. Growing independent Bonanza Creek and Anadarko follow, both with aggressive development programs. TVDs are in the neighborhood of 6,200 feet with well costs that range from $4.5 million to ~ $5 million/well.
Several exciting shales now overlay an historic conventional oil basin where drilling began in the 1920s. They include the Avalon, Leonard, Wolfcamp, Bone Spring Field, Spraberry Field, and Yeso Oil Play. Also included is the Wolfberry Trend which refers to the Wolfcamp Shale and the Spraberry Field. There are plenty of operators of record here, but just eight account for around 70% of shale drilling today in the Permian. The top three: Pioneer Natural Resources, Concho Resources (which just spent over $1 billion to acquire Three Rivers Operating), and Apache. Oxy follows close behind, then comes Energen, Sandridge, Cimarex, and EOG.