Mississippi lime play sprawls northward into Nebraska

By OGJ editors

Horizontal wells in the US Midcontinent Mississippi lime oil play aren’t as productive as those in the Williston basin Bakken, but shallower depths and cheaper drilling costs are driving increased interest in the Mississippi lime, said IHS Inc.

The land play has expanded to more than 17 million acres in northern Oklahoma, western Kansas, and southern Nebraska, said Paul O’Donnell, author of the IHS Herold Mississippian Oil Play Regional Play Assessment.

“The Mississippian’s highly variable drilling results to-date, combined with increasing entry costs, might deter new entrants, but recent drilling reports suggest results could improve as knowledge of the play and technical adjustments increase.

“This is a shallow carbonate play, with depths ranging from 3,000 ft to 6,000 ft, and since it’s shallower than other US unconventional plays, operators can employ less expensive, lower horsepower rigs to drill it.”

The reservoir averages 300-500 ft thick with the Woodford shale as its source rock (OGJ Online, Aug. 29, 2011). Using rigs of about 1,000 hp, drilling costs are estimated at $2.9-3.5 million/well, compared with $8-11 million in the Bakken.

IHS said SandRidge Energy has an early mover advantage and is most leveraged to the Mississippian, as measured by acreage in the play per million dollars of company enterprise value. SandRidge is driving the play’s development and recently reported completion at 2,200 b/d of oil equivalent well as the first 30-day average that could make Alfalfa County, Okla., one of the best spots in the play.

Coincidentally, Devon Energy Corp. said Wednesday that it has increased its exposure to 545,000 net acres in the emerging Mississippi lime light-oil resource play in Oklahoma.

O’Donnell said, the Mississippi lime “will be a good ancillary asset for most companies, rather than a ‘company-changer.’”

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