U.S. Shale Plays: Marcellus, Pearsall and New Albany

October 15, 2010

This is part three of our tour of shale plays around the U.S. beginning in the Appalachian Basin working down south to the Maverick Basin, the home of Pearsall Shale and then on to New Albany in Illinois.

Marcellus Shale

Located in the Appalachian Basin, Marcellus Shale across 2.4 million acres of land in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and parts of Ohio. The formation has a high flow rate and may hold 500 trillion cubic feet of gas. Its structure consists of Middle Devonian-age black organic-rich shale.

Maverick Basin and Pearsall Shale in Southwest Texas

Located in Southwest Texas on the Rio Grande River near the Gulf Coast Basin, most of the Maverick Basin is in Maverick County with a section in Dimmit and Webb. The basin contains carbonate, sandstone, coal and shale beds from the Jurassic to Cretaceous ages and it has oil and gas reserves.

Anadarko Petroleum has two evaluation wells in Pearsall Shale. Newfield Exploration Company is currently assessing Pearsall as well as Eagle Ford. The oil and gas company's focus is on the Maverick Basin in Southwest Texas that contains 300,000 net acres and a net production to the equivalent of 1,500 barrels and two-thirds of that is oil.

In a joint agreement with Calgary's EnCana Corp., TXCO Resources has drilled three wells with plans to drill up to 27 wells in Pearsall in the Maverick Basin. The Maverick Basin is TXCO's primary focus as the company has over 60,000 net acres. The oil and gas exploration and production company is the largest landholder in Maverick and it has acreage in the Marfa Basin in West Texas. TXCO's website indicates that Pearsall has a reputation for being an unpredictable spot. The company uses seismic imaging and drilling techniques to improve Pearsall's predictability.

New Albany Shale

The shale in Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky is from Devonian to Mississippian age, which is shallow at around 500 to 3000 feet. The typical shale play runs 3000 to 5000 feet below the surface. Rich in hydrocarbon, the shale below the Illinois Basin varies from brown, black and green.

Atlas Energy Inc. plans to invest $150 million into Albany Shale where it has 120,000 net acres and expects each horizontal well to product a daily average of 300,000 cubic feet. The company says it will drill over 100 wells. Atlas core plays -- where it's one of the larger producers -- include Marcellus, Antrim, New Albany and Chattanooga. Atlas has over 500,000 net acres and about 200 shale wells in Marcellus.

Independent oil and gas exploration and development company Baseline Oil has three core properties, one of which is in New Albany Shale. The others include Blessing Field in Matagorda County, Texas, and Eliasville Field in Stephens County.

Woodford Shale

Comprising of Mississippian and Devonian Shale, Woodford Shale in Southeastern Oklahoma contains a dark-gray to black shale. The Oklahoma play is in the counties of Atoka, Bryan and Coal and in the Anadarko, Ardmore, Arkoma, Marfa and Marietta Basins.

PetroQuest Energy, Inc. has 46,000 net acres in Woodford with 36 operated wells. It completed two horizontal wells that the company expects to see an initial production rate of 2,000 – 4,000 Mcf per day.

PetroQuest estimates that its Oklahoma properties produce 30 MMcfe per day.

Part 1 and Part 2 list more shale plays. In comments, please share information about these and other plays or ask questions.