BATON ROUGE, La. — Energy companies are reporting encouraging test results from the Tuscaloosa Marine Shale across the span of central Louisiana, the state’s natural resources chief says.
According to The Advocate, Devon Energy Corp. has reported an initial test of 120 barrels a day in its first completed horizontal well in East Feliciana Parish. Indigo Minerals LLC has reported that its Rapides Parish well’s initial production was 540 barrels a day.
Department of Natural Resources Secretary Scott Angelle said there is more work to be done to determine how far petroleum explorers will go with investments.
Amelia Resources LLC president Kirk Barrell said 10 to 20 wells will be needed before the industry can best determine how to produce in the formation. The shale spans the central part of the state. Researchers have said it may contain as much as 7 billion barrels of oil.
Companies will need to determine how many stages of a process called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, are needed and how best to perform that task, Barrell said. In fracking, drillers force millions of gallons of water, sand and chemicals under high pressure into the formations to make cracks in the shale. The sand props the cracks open, releasing the oil.
The process has been questioned by environmentalists who fear groundwater contamination.
While a well’s initial production rate is important, another key to measuring performance is the first year of the well’s production, Barrell said.
In general, a shale well’s production drops 70 percent to 80 percent over the first 12 months, Barrell said. The bulk of the well’s production occurs during the first two to three years of operation.
Indigo Minerals and Devon have each leased more than 240,000 acres in the formation.
Devon recently reported that it is near the target depth on another Tuscaloosa Marine Shale well in Tangipahoa Parish, and the company has obtained permits for two wells in the formation in East Feliciana Parish.
Encana Corp., one of the major players in north Louisiana’s Haynesville Shale natural gas formation, also announced it has reached target depth on a horizontal Tuscaloosa Marine Shale well in St. Helena Parish. But Encana has not yet reported initial production figures.