More than 2,600 oil and natural gas wells were completed in Oklahoma last year, according to reports filed with state regulators.
Nearly 20 percent of those wells were drilled in two counties, Alfalfa and Woods, in northwest Oklahoma, as companies once again applied for more than 4,000 drilling permits in 2013.
It was the second consecutive year permits had reached that threshold, according to records from the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. That is up from about 2,100 in 2009, as many parts of the country are contributing to a domestic oil and natural gas boom.
“Horizontal drilling has opened vast new resources across the country and has renewed activity in Oklahoma’s historic oil fields,” said Mike Terry, president of the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association. “The Mississippi Lime in northern Oklahoma was considered all but drained just five years ago, but today is it one of the country’s most active areas for oil and gas exploration.
“The same can be said for the SCOOP and the STACK. Both resources plays are in historic oil-producing areas and both offer decades of new drilling opportunities.”
Drillers completed more than 100 wells in 10 counties, most in the western half of the state, according to regulators, while there were no wells drilled in 16 other counties.
“Crude oil production in Oklahoma has doubled in the past five years thanks to technological advancements in drilling and well completion methods,” Terry said. “Production will continue to climb as innovation continues and producers take advantage of regulatory and legislative decisions that encourage investment in new oil and natural gas wells.”
Most active companies
The largest oil and gas producers based in Oklahoma also are among the state’s most active drillers.
SandRidge Energy Inc. has largely tied its future to its acreage in northern Oklahoma and southern Kansas. The company initially focused on the Mississippi Lime formation, but since has expanded its operations to reach multiple formations in the Mid-Continent.
SandRidge completed 310 wells in 2013, according to its quarterly reports.
The company said it completed 58 wells in the first quarter of this year, as it added part of Garfield County to its focus area. An 11-well appraisal program in that area yielded a 30-day average of 406 barrels of oil equivalent a day.
Devon Energy Corp. has been active in Oklahoma for quite some time, but it has moved its attention to several counties in northern Oklahoma where its wells can access either the Mississippian or Woodford Shale.
Devon has eight rigs in Garfield, Logan, Noble and Payne counties, where the company plans to invest more than $300 million this year.
The company also is working to boost production from its existing wells in the Cana Woodford Shale in western Oklahoma. It has worked over about 70 wells, tripling production to more than 3 billion cubic feet of natural gas equivalent a day.
Devon has identified about 200 additional Cana wells for similar treatment.
State potential great
Oklahoma isn’t one of Chesapeake Energy Corp.’s core operating areas, but officials are optimistic about its potential.
At last month’s analyst day, Jason Pigot, senior vice president of operations for Chesapeake’s southern division, said the company has been getting “phenomenal” returns from its operations in the Mid-Continent, despite cutting back its rig count.
“It’s another play that we haven’t highlighted a lot in the past, but it is a great value addition to the corporation,” Pigot said.
Chesapeake had eight rigs operating in the Mississippian last month, with activity centered in the two counties were most of the state’s wells were completed in 2013.
The company also had four more rigs in southwest Oklahoma: one in Washita County and three others further west near the Texas border.
Continental Resources Inc. made its name in North Dakota’s Bakken Shale, but company officials are excited about a new Oklahoma oil field it unveiled in 2012.
The South Central Oklahoma Oil Province, or SCOOP, produced nearly 30,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day for Continental in the first quarter, up 106 percent over the same period of last year.
Jeff Hume, Continental’s vice chairman of strategic growth initiatives, said the company has 16 rigs in the play, which includes several oil-bearing basins.
The play is in parts of five counties, but the bulk of Continental’s activity is around Chickasha and south toward Duncan.
“The SCOOP goes all the way down into Love County,” he said. “It’s clear to the Red River.”
Hume said Continental expects to complete as many as 150 wells in the SCOOP this year.
“We’re very excited about being this active in Oklahoma,” he said.
Others firms are active
Two other companies have touted discoveries in the same part of the state.
Newfield Exploration Co. announced the STACK play last year, so named because of the presence of multiple oil-producing zones below parts of Kingfisher, Canadian and Blaine counties. The Texas-based company also is active in the SCOOP.
Newfield plans to spend about $700 million this year in Oklahoma, which has become the company’s largest focus area.
Tulsa-based Unit Corp. has shifted its attention from the Mississippian in Kansas to its newest core play, dubbed the SOHOT, or Southern Oklahoma Hoxbar Oil Trend, in southwest Grady County.
The company has a narrow acreage position there, but officials said there are plenty of drilling opportunities because of the presence of four to six potentially productive stacked sand benches.
Unit also has two rigs drilling into the Marmaton formation in Beaver County.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that more than 4,600 oil and natural gas wells were completed in Oklahoma last year. (This story has been corrected.)
by the numbers
These counties had the most oil and natural gas companies applying for drilling permits last year: