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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

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.

SCOOP producing

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.)

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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