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Black gold.

EOG Resources Inc. of Houston announced Feb. 28 that it had tested horizontal drilling for crude oil in the Barnett Shale Play near Fort Worth, which was previously strictly a natural gas play.

Your Whispers staff, naturally, started wondering whether oil might follow natural gas out of north-central Arkansas' Fayetteville Shale Play, which is often compared to the Barnett Shale.

The short answer is really short: No.

"Everybody's got a Beverly Hillbillies mentality about oil," said Ed Ratchford of the Arkansas Geological Survey. The conditions that create hydrocarbons differ, so a shale formation that contains natural gas doesn't necessarily contain oil as well.

It seems the Fayetteville Shale Play is "thermally mature," meaning it contains a lot of natural gas and almost no oil.

But there's also a long answer. Ratchford said EOG's new technique might benefit a 10-county region in south Arkansas, home to an oil boom nearly a century ago. The south Arkansas region is thermally immature and primarily contains crude that's like "molasses in winter."

Ratchford last week received a request for geological data on south Arkansas from an oil company he wouldn't name. And that's unusual; most of the inquiries he receives these days are for north Arkansas

New horizontal drilling techniques using proper stimulation could help extract oil that was un-gettable using older methods. The region in which the new technique might be useful includes Union, Ashley, Ouachita, Columbia, Nevada, Hempstead, Bradley, Calhoun, Lafayette and Miller counties.
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Title Annotation:Whispers
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Mar 10, 2008
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