Noble extends lateral lengths in Marcellus

Noble Energy has completed the longest operated laterals the company has ever drilled in the Marcellus shale. In a fourth-quarter earnings release Noble said the laterals, which averaged over 10,000 ft in length, were drilled from the SHL-17 pad in the Majorsville wet-gas area in Marshall County, W.Va. Production from the pad commenced in December at nearly 40 MMcfed.

The company is also seeing promising early results from the use of reduced stage and cluster spacing techniques in the dry-gas area of its Marcellus shale acreage. Initial production rates averaged 12 MMcfd for wells brought online, with peak rates as high as 18 MMcfd.

Noble has also increased its contiguous acreage position in the Marcellus shale by agreeing to purchase a 50% working interest in roughly 90,000 gross acres in West Virginia. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed. The acreage holds an estimated 1.8 tcfe of net risked resource and includes 350 identified locations. Drilling is expected to begin in 2015.

Noble's Marcellus shale production averaged 196 MMcfd during the fourth quarter, up 61% from the same period a year ago. A total of 42 wells were drilled and 19 wells initiated production.

EDF, operators team up to find best practices

The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) has teamed up with other environmental groups and operators in the Marcellus shale to form the Center for Sustainable Shale Development (CSSD), based in Pittsburg, Pa.

Speaking to IHS CERAWeek in Houston, EDF Pres. Fred Krupp said the group is working with operators, including Shell Oil Co., EQT Corp., and Chevron Corp., to write a voluntary set of best practices.

Krupp said one guideline addresses well cementing standards, examining the best method for determining whether a cement job has been performed properly.

CSSD has so-far compiled a list of 15 voluntary performance standards. Operators can receive CSSD certifications in the areas of air and climate, water and waste, or both by submitting to third-party audits performed by Bureau Veritas.

"I think that's a good thing, and it takes care of a lot of the problems," Krupp said of the certifications. "At the same time, I think the industry has so many thousands, literally, of operators that we do need common sense, sensible regulations."

American Energy doubles acreage in Utica shale

American Energy Partners has doubled its acreage in the Utica shale after signing three deals to acquire a combined 130,000 net acres in the southern portion of the shale formation from Hess Corp., ExxonMobil Corp., and Paloma Partners LLC.

Once the deals close, the company's leasehold in the Utica shale will rise to 260,000 net acres. More than 90% of the acreage is in the most heavily drilled area of the emerging shale formation, in Jefferson, Belmont, Guernsey, Harrison, Monroe, and Noble counties, in Ohio.

Plans call for drilling 1,600 net (2,700 gross) wells in the counties during the next 10 years. Financial terms of the agreements were not disclosed, although Hess said in late January that it sold 74,000 net acres in the dry gas portion of the shale play to an unnamed buyer for $924 million.

American Energy, of Oklahoma City, Okla., is a private company founded in late 2013 by Aubrey McClendon, former chief executive officer of Chesapeake Energy Corp. The company is backed by private-equity firms The Energy & Minerals Group and First Reserve Corp.

Magnum completes first Utica well on Stadler pad

Magnum Hunter Resources Corp. said its first dry gas well completed on the Stadler pad in the Utica shale was placed on production in mid-February.

Gary Evans, chief executive officer of Magnum, said the Stalder #3UH is the most eastern well and one of the most southern wells drilled to date in the Ohio portion of the Utica shale.

The well tested at a peak rate of 32.5 MMcfd on an adjustable rate choke with 4,300 psi flowing casing pressure. It was drilled and cased to a true vertical depth of 10,653 ft with a 5,050 ft horizontal lateral, and fraced with 20 stages.

The Stalder #3UH was the first of up to 18 potential wells planned for the Stadler Pad in Monroe County, Ohio. Magnum subsidiary Triad Hunter LLC, operates the Stalder #3UH with 47% working interest alongside partners Eclipse Resources, Statoil, and Northwood Energy Corp.

Magnum was to have spudded its first Utica shale well in West Virginia in March, weather permitting. The well was set to be drilled from the four-well Stewart Winland pad, in Tyler County. The other three wells on the pad will target the Marcellus shale.

During the fourth quarter of 2013, Magnum drilled seven net wells and completed six net wells in the Marcellus and Utica shales.

Net fourth quarter production, attributable to Triad Hunter's operations, was 37.6 MMcfed, a 24% increase compared to the same period a year earlier.

TGS plans 3D seismic surveys in eastern Ohio

TGS-Nopec Geophysical Co. is preparing to launch two, 3D seismic surveys covering several of the most hotly drilled counties in the Utica shale in eastern Ohio.

TGS said its Freeport survey will encompass 1,217 sq km in Belmont, Carroll, Guernsey, Harrison, Noble, and Tuscarawas counties in eastern Ohio, and the Waterford survey will cover 210 sq km in Washington County, Ohio, in the southern core of the wet gas window.

The high-resolution, wide-aperture surveys will generate data for geotechnical evaluations of the emerging shale formation, and may also lead to further development of secondary zones within the Cambrian to Devonian interval.

The surveys will draw on data from TGS's well library—which includes more than 7,000 well logs in the Ohio portion of the Appalachian basin—and apply advanced products to improve play, trend, and prospect delineation. Once the surveys are complete, TGS will have more than 2,480 sq km of 3D seismic data and significant geologic data spanning the Utica shale.

Survey work will begin in the fourth quarter of 2014. Data will be processed by TGS subsidiary Arcis Seismic Solutions, of Calgary, with results available in late 2015.

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