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Horizontal drilling fuels Oklahoma's latest oil boom

Drillers completed more than 2,600 oil and natural gas wells in Oklahoma last year, as applications for drilling permits exceeded 4,000 for the second year in a row.
By Jay F. Marks, Business Writer Modified: June 23, 2014 at 3:15 pm •  Published: June 22, 2014

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.

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Drilling permits

by the numbers

These counties had the most oil and natural gas companies applying for drilling permits last year:

Alfalfa: 333

Carter: 232

Woods: 208

Logan: 197

Stephens: 181

Noble: 172

Payne: 163

Roger Mills: 157

Canadian: 147

Grant: 147

Source: Oklahoma

Corporation Commission


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