The dwindling supply of top-tier drilling locations in the Permian Basin is prompting operators such as
Pioneer Natural Resources and Elevation Resources to turn their attention back to the Barnett Shale,
as optimized drilling and completion designs are offering hope of overcoming the play's technical
challenges. "The Barnett is gassier than the Wolfcamp, but it produces less water, thus the wells are
cheaper to operate than the Wolfcamp or Spraberry wells," said Elevation President
and CEO Steve Pruett.
I have two thoughts. The first being the surprise that the number of "top-tier" drilling locations has declined to the point that some companies are looking elsewhere for opportunities. This has been speculated on by energy media as a future event that to some extent appears to be here now for some Permian operators. The second goes back to our discussions about Haynesville Shale completion designs and proppant loads in the early years of the Play. The lease retention focus of the early years led to little tweaking of completion designs. Now that we see an increase in operators refracking original unit wells and realizing how those proppant loads were around half that of present norms, interest in the Barnett makes sense. The Banrett Shale was ground zero for Mitchell Energy and the US Department of Energy to experiment with and refine horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracture stimulation. Considering how much better current Haynesville well production is in comparison to early wells, it would make sense that those same refinements would provide a reason to revisit the Barnett.