OIL PIQUES INTEREST IN SPRINGHILL, CLAIBORNE PARISH - Vickie Wellborn, August 28,2011 - shreveportitmes.com

SPRINGHILL — Wooden stakes protruding from the ground at several locations in the city could be tangible signs of more lucrative times ahead for this sometimes struggling north Webster Parish community.

The stakes indicate potential drilling sites — for oil.

A landman has been working the city in recent weeks, seeking permission from landowners to drill within 500 feet of their homes or businesses. City Hall is one of those properties.

"It does excite me," Mayor Carroll Breaux said. "Seriously, I hope this thing does at least what they are talking about."

And if so, the city could anticipate additional revenue through royalty payments. "The city definitely would benefit from it," Breaux said.

While mystery surrounds specifics of the oil interest in Springhill and north Webster Parish, more is known about similar drilling plans in neighboring Claiborne Parish. Houston-based Southwestern Energy announced in July its intent to spud a well in north Claiborne Parish this fall, with 10 others possible in 2012.

The company already has been busy in south Arkansas with more than 50 landmen working in the area for the past year or so. Southwestern has leased about 460,000 acres targeting development of the Upper Smackover Brown Dense formation, an oil reserve found in southern Arkansas and several north Louisiana parishes.

The play is among several gaining attention in Louisiana, south Texas and other parts of the nation as oil and gas companies focus exploration efforts on oil, which had become more profitable as the price of natural gas has been stagnant.

The plays, including the Tuscaloosa Marine Shale that cuts a swath from Texas across central Louisiana and into southwest Mississippi, have been known for decades. But it wasn't until the effective combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing was perfected in the extraction of natural gas did the industry find renewed interest in some of these oil plays.

Drilling plans

The Brown Dense got its name because it's a dark-colored lime and mud stone, according to descriptions in geologists' bulletins. It's at about 8,000 to 10,000 feet and is 300 to 530 feet thick.

The formation has previously produced oil — albeit a small amount — in Louisiana. A well in the North Farmerville Field in Union Parish was completed in December 1984 and produced about 45 barrels of oil a day. After a short production of 7,200 barrels, it was plugged and abandoned and went off production in April 1986.

"That's the only one, but it was a vertical hole," said M.B. Kumar, director of geology for the state conservation office's oil and gas division.

Southwestern Energy presented its proposal for a drilling unit at a public hearing Aug. 9 in Baton Rouge. The unit includes 1,045 acres in the Lower Smackover zone in the Helick Creek Field in Claiborne Parish and is about 12 miles east of Haynesville and 6 miles west of the Union Parish line.

An additional 235 acres will be added to the unit across the Arkansas line in Union County.

"This will be the first unit for the production from Lower Smackover zone," Kumar said.

The conservation office's staff is reviewing Southwestern's request, and if all is in order, Commissioner Jim Welsh will issue an order in less than 30 days.

Welsh's main concerns, Kumar said, are to protect the drinking water in the area and proper disposal of the backflow water from the fracking process.

"They have to use as much as they can surface water," Kumar said. "Then again, the operator will be submitting their plan and information on how much water they'll be using for drilling and fracking operations."

Southwestern should be able to gauge the potential of the Brown Dense for oil production after completion of the horizontal well, Kumar said.

He added: "They are optimistic. They have expressed optimism they will be successful. Again, only time will tell. There are lots of risks involved. Too, it's very, very expensive. But if it's successful, then you can imagine 460,000 acres being in production. It could be a tremendous boom. ... They are kind of fired up about the potential."

'Positive guesser'

Springhill businessman Lamar Smith is always optimistic about oil and gas plays but admits "everything's a guess at this point. But I'm a positive guesser."

Smith, owner of Springhill Land and Timber, has leased his property in Louisiana and Arkansas, particularly in Columbia County where most of the lease activity is taking place. "They started there and worked south," he said.

As far as the drilling interest around Springhill, Smith said that's a separate company and different play, but it still promotes optimism and excitement among the locals.

"With the amount of lease people in the area at this stage, we can't guarantee anything, but somebody is going to drill something. But if they are dry holes, then they'll go home," Smith said.

Breaux welcomes potential of newly infused revenue into the city. Springhill has had its share of a yo-yoing economy for quite a while. The loss of International Paper Co. in 1979 dealt a significant blow and the loss of hundreds of jobs. But Springhill slowly rebounded, only to be knocked down again in more recent years with the loss of other major employers such as Georgia Pacific and the Trane Co..

The landman who has been working in Springhill represents a Baton Rouge energy company. City officials have not signed a lease. Breaux is waiting on paperwork.

It's still too early to know how much money the city could earn in royalty payments if the company's oil exploration and drilling are successful.

"We'll take whatever we can get, though. It won't be just from the land, but the roads and rights of way," he said.


Smith, owner of Springhill Land and Timber, has leased his property in Louisiana and Arkansas, particularly in Columbia County where most of the lease activity is taking place. "They started there and worked south," he said.

As far as the drilling interest around Springhill, Smith said that's a separate company and different play, but it still promotes optimism and excitement among the locals.

"With the amount of lease people in the area at this stage, we can't guarantee anything, but somebody is going to drill something. But if they are dry holes, then they'll go home," Smith said.

Breaux welcomes potential of newly infused revenue into the city. Springhill has had its share of a yo-yoing economy for quite a while. The loss of International Paper Co. in 1979 dealt a significant blow and the loss of hundreds of jobs. But Springhill slowly rebounded, only to be knocked down again in more recent years with the loss of other major employers such as Georgia Pacific and the Trane Co..

The landman who has been working in Springhill represents a Baton Rouge energy company. City officials have not signed a lease. Breaux is waiting on paperwork.

It's still too early to know how much money the city could earn in royalty payments if the company's oil exploration and drilling are successful.

"We'll take whatever we can get, though. It won't be just from the land, but the roads and rights of way," he said.

The formation has previously produced oil — albeit a small amount — in Louisiana. A well in the North Farmerville Field in Union Parish was completed in December 1984 and produced about 45 barrels of oil a day. After a short production of 7,200 barrels, it was plugged and abandoned and went off production in April 1986.

"That's the only one, but it was a vertical hole," said M.B. Kumar, director of geology for the state conservation office's oil and gas division.

Southwestern Energy presented its proposal for a drilling unit at a public hearing Aug. 9 in Baton Rouge. The unit includes 1,045 acres in the Lower Smackover zone in the Helick Creek Field in Claiborne Parish and is about 12 miles east of Haynesville and 6 miles west of the Union Parish line.

An additional 235 acres will be added to the unit across the Arkansas line in Union County.

"This will be the first unit for the production from Lower Smackover zone," Kumar said.

The conservation office's staff is reviewing Southwestern's request, and if all is in order, Commissioner Jim Welsh will issue an order in less than 30 days.

Welsh's main concerns, Kumar said, are to protect the drinking water in the area and proper disposal of the backflow water from the fracking process.

"They have to use as much as they can surface water," Kumar said. "Then again, the operator will be submitting their plan and information on how much water they'll be using for drilling and fracking operations."

Southwestern should be able to gauge the potential of the Brown Dense for oil production after completion of the horizontal well, Kumar said.

He added: "They are optimistic. They have expressed optimism they will be successful. Again, only time will tell. There are lots of risks involved. Too, it's very, very expensive. But if it's successful, then you can imagine 460,000 acres being in production. It could be a tremendous boom. ... They are kind of fired up about the potential."

'Positive guesser'

Springhill businessman Lamar Smith is always optimistic about oil and gas plays but admits "everything's a guess at this point. But I'm a positive guesser."

(Page 3 of 3)

Smith, owner of Springhill Land and Timber, has leased his property in Louisiana and Arkansas, particularly in Columbia County where most of the lease activity is taking place. "They started there and worked south," he said.

As far as the drilling interest around Springhill, Smith said that's a separate company and different play, but it still promotes optimism and excitement among the locals.

"With the amount of lease people in the area at this stage, we can't guarantee anything, but somebody is going to drill something. But if they are dry holes, then they'll go home," Smith said.

Breaux welcomes potential of newly infused revenue into the city. Springhill has had its share of a yo-yoing economy for quite a while. The loss of International Paper Co. in 1979 dealt a significant blow and the loss of hundreds of jobs. But Springhill slowly rebounded, only to be knocked down again in more recent years with the loss of other major employers such as Georgia Pacific and the Trane Co..

The landman who has been working in Springhill represents a Baton Rouge energy company. City officials have not signed a lease. Breaux is waiting on paperwork.

It's still too early to know how much money the city could earn in royalty payments if the company's oil exploration and drilling are successful.

"We'll take whatever we can get, though. It won't be just from the land, but the roads and rights of way," he said.

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I'm just wondering, can anybody tell me how far south into Webster the brown dense goes?
Bruce, I think it likely that there is Brown Dense under much of if not all of  Webster Parish.  The question is, how deep is it?  The initial SWN contour map shows the 10,000' contour line roughly paralleling the state line with the 11,000' contour line approximately 6 miles to the south.  Depth is important to the prospective nature of the formation.  Much of the early interest in this formation is associated with oil and/or liquids.  SWN has described their interpretation of the Brown Dense as likely having an oil region in southern AR. around the 8,000' contour line then moving south a region of natural gas with high liquids content and finally further south a drier gas zone.  The first two wells permitted by SWN will test the 8,000' contour near Atlanta, AR. and the 10,000 to 11,000' contour in north Claiborne Parish.  That Claiborne well will tell us something about the Brown Dense in Webster Parish.
Bruce, The Brown Dense should underlie all of Webster Parish. That doesn't imply that it will ever be productive everywhere. It will not. But, let us all keep our fingers crossed. I hope to see some good results in Ark/La  line and far beyond to east and west, as well as south.
Amazing what you can read in the newspapers. Certainly there is no mystery involved in Jag drilling another routine Haynesville Sand well. Jag has been steadily drilling both Haynesville Sand and Smackover wells in the Springhill area for more than a year. The well mentioned in news article involves numerous land owners as it is in town. My neice owns land under a portion of the proposed drilling pad. It is an exceptional location and requires consent of affected land owners.  I have been asked by my neice to assist her in this matter.
Thank you for your responses Skip and Mr. Sanders. Me and my family have land in South Webster, just east of Minden. I am assuming by your answers that where we are located the brown dense would be too deep to be productive for oil due to the temps that would be found at that depth. Am I correct?
Bruce, it's hard to answer without knowing the depth of the LSBD in your part of S. Webster.  If the formation continues to increase in depth at the same rate from the state line area south to say Minden, I would think it should be 12,500' or deeper.  Yes, the chances are greater that the formation would be dry gas at that depth.
There are several new wells that have gone to the salt in south webster ph.  As far as I know no mention of the brown dense was made by any of the operators.

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