October 2, 2007

Newfield Targeting Woodford Shale Gas: The Southeast Oklahoma Play Gets No Respect — so Far.

By Jason Womack, Tulsa World, Okla.

Oct. 2--Oklahoma's Woodford Shale should get the respect it deserves, according to an executive of Newfield Exploration Mid-Continent Inc.

"It's the Rodney Dangerfield of shales," said Sam Langford, manager of planning, acquisitions and commercial development for Newfield, part of Houston-based Newfield Exploration Co.

Langford addressed a group of industry professionals Monday about the formation and Newfield's activity there during the third Mid-Continent Coalbed Methane & Shale Gas Symposium, sponsored by the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association and the Oklahoma Unconventional Resources Forum.

Newfield's Tulsa-based Mid-Continent branch is the most active driller in the Woodford, a natural gas-rich formation beneath two-thirds of Oklahoma. The bulk of the exploration in the shale, however, takes place in Coal, Hughes, Pittsburg and Atoka counties.

Some companies have targeted the Woodford outside of this core area. But New field and others focus on the four-county area because it provides a balance between cost and profitability, Langford said.

"It's all about chasing wells that are commercially viable," he said.

The Woodford Shale is the largest single natural gas play for Newfield and the largest capital commitment for the company.

"We think this is an exceptional, high-quality play," Langford told the group at the Renaissance Tulsa Hotel and Convention Center, 6808 S. 107th East Ave.

Newfield has drilled more than 100 wells in what the company has identified as the shale's core -- a 1,000-square-mile area stretching across southeastern Oklahoma. Newfield's lease hold is 155,000 net acres, and the company produces more than 130 million cubic feet of gas per day from the formation.

The company drilled the first well targeting the Woodford in 2004 and now has 13 rigs drilling in the core area.

Langford said the Woodford Shale has tremendous potential. But the play is still young and not considered as viable as the Barnett Shale, a natural gas field in North Texas.

The Barnett, the most active gas play in the nation, has an estimated 30 trillion cubic feet.

"The Barnett is just more mature," Langford said. "It's easier to say what it will be in the future."

But Langford estimates that Newfield acreage in the Woodford, which is less than half of the formation's core acreage, holds trillions of cubic feet in natural gas. The formation also benefits from natural fractures that make gas extraction easier.

Shale gas production typically involves drilling down and then over. Water and sand are injected into the ground, breaking up the rocks and releasing the gas trapped within.

Areas of the Woodford are already shattered, facilitating production.

"On a pure productivity basis, the Woodford outperforms the Barnett," Langford said.


Jason Womack 581-8380 [email protected]


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