It is easy to get caught up in the staggering Permian Basin oil production numbers or bewildered by the Beast of the East’s (Marcellus) breathtaking rates of gas production. Midcontinent operators are “scooping and stacking” impressive well returns, the Eagle Ford appears to be on an ascent trajectory to soar once more, and the Bakken is getting back to rockin’ and rollin.’
The advancements in technology necessary to make each play successful did not happen overnight. It was a steady progression of trying new approaches, tweaking as needed and repeating until the right solution was found to make a well produce at economic rates.
That same process is underway in unconventional resource plays across the globe. Take, for example, the recent announcement by Total S.A. and Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. (ADNOC) to launch an exploration program in the Ruwais Diyab unconventional gas concession block. The French major was granted a 40% stake, with ADNOC retaining the remaining 60%, according to a press release. The concession allows for two exploration and appraisal phases for a period of up to seven years, followed by a 40-year development and production period.
“The Diyab play has the potential to be a high-impact play ranking alongside the most prolific North American shale gas plays and is an excellent addition to our exploration portfolio,” Total Chairman and CEO Patrick Pouyanné said in the release.
Cuadrilla Resources has inched closer to its final goal of producing shale gas from the U.K.’s Bowland Shale. The company announced in November that it had begun to see natural gas fl ow to the surface from its shale exploration well at its Preston New Road site. The gas returned to surface, along with water being recycled from the shale rock, after hydraulic fracturing a small section of the shale surrounding the first horizontal exploration well, according to a press release.
“The volumes of gas returning to surface at this stage are small. However, considering that we are only at the very start of fracturing operations and, given operating constraints, have not yet been able to inject as much sand into the shale as we had planned, this is a good early indication of the gas potential that we have long talked about,” Cuadrilla CEO Francis Egan said in the press release. Next steps are to fully test fl ow rates from two exploration wells near the end of 2018 and into the new year following the completion of hydraulic fracturing operations, which began in mid-October, according to the company.
Here in the U.S., it was news coming out of the Tuscaloosa Marine Shale (TMS) that caught my eye as Perth-based Australis Oil & Gas announced that it had begun a six-well drilling campaign in its acreage near Gillsburg, Miss. The Nabors B14 drilling rig has been contracted to drill a minimum of six wells for the company with a provision to extend. According to an investor presentation in October, the first four wells will be drilled proximal to the company’s Lawson 25-13H well, which has produced more than 300,000 bbl of oil in its first 24 months. First production for the Bergold 29H and Stewart 30H wells are planned for late February/early March 2019.
As with everything, success in Ruwais Diyab, the Bowland and the TMS will require a little time, a little luck and a whole lotta perseverance.
Jennifer Presley’s Drilling Technologies column originally appeared in the December 2018 edition of E&P.