October 2007

What's new in exploration

I expected strong reader response to my August column, “The Fayetteville Shale: An early evaluation,” and I got it. Most reactions were positive, but the negative comments are more interesting and revealing. Critics make some well-reasoned points and legitimate criticism of my analysis. Their comments also illustrate how the industry is divided in its opinion about the Fayetteville and Barnett Shale plays. Several important points emerged: Recently completed Fayetteville Shale wells that used slick-water fracture stimulation should be profitable. Apparently, most of the horizontal wells that I evaluated were completed using less effective stimulation techniques. The application of hyperbolic decline models to preliminary Fayetteville Shale production results in higher economic reserves and longer-lived production than I used in my analysis. Economic models used by some Fayetteville operators incorporate lower lease operating costs than I presented, and some companies do not charge certain overhead costs against production sales as I did.

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