WPX gauges Piceance horizontal Niobrara gas find

WPX Energy Inc., Tulsa, has revealed a horizontal Niobrara shale gas discovery in the Piceance basin of Colorado that the company said has the potential to ultimately more than double its current 18 tcf equivalent of proved, probable, and possible reserves.

The company initially gauged the Garfield County well at 16 MMcfd at 7,300 psi flowing pressure. Choked substantially to optimize reservoir performance and ensure maximum recovery, it has averaged 12 MMcfd the past 30 days.

WPX will drill at least two more horizontal Niobrara wells in the basin this year, pending permits, starting within a 6-mile radius of the first well. Other operators are delineating the resource on the basin’s eastern and western margins.

The discovery well produces from a 4,600-ft horizontal lateral with 17 frac stages at 10,200 ft true vertical depth. It is on the company’s Piceance Valley acreage. WPX has lease rights to 180,000 net acres of the Niobrara/Mancos shale play.

A vertical Niobrara well that WPX drilled in late 2011 gave the company the impetus to drill the formation horizontally. WPX spudded the horizontal well last August and recovered 535 ft of continuous core.

WPX has drilled more than 4,000 wells in the basin, mostly in tight sandstones of the Williams Fork formation at 6,000-9,000 ft. The Niobrara and Mancos shales, to which WPX holds an average 66% working interest, are generally at 10,000-13,000 ft.

Substantial gathering and processing facilities are in place to accommodate additional gas volumes from the area, as is take-away capacity from the basin. Gas produced from the Niobrara and Mancos shales can be processed without modification to existing plants, WPX said.

WPX said it is seeing hydrocarbon saturation across tremendous thickness in a highly overpressured environment in the Piceance.

The company said the latest discovery is a logical follow-on to its 2010 Mancos shale discoveries in 31n-6w on its Rosa Unit in Rio Arriba County, NM, in the San Juan basin. There two horizontal wells produced at 8.3 and 11 MMcfd through 5,200-ft laterals from the same reservoir WPX is delineating in the Piceance.

On line in mid-November 2010, those wells recovered 1.4 and 1.7 bcfe through August 2012, the company said in a September 2012 presentation.

The company has added 1.3 tcf of proved, probable, and possible reserves from the San Juan play, where more than 61,000 net acres of Mancos rights are held by production.

Contact Alan Petzet at alanp@ogjonline.com.

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