The first Haynesville Shale well in the state of Louisiana was permitted January 12, 2006 by Encana Oil & Gas (USA) Inc. as a product type “00” (No Product Specified) with a permitted horizon listed as Smackover. It was drilled in Section 15 – Township 13N – Range 9W of Red River Parish in the Martin Field. The ADCOCK INV LP ETAL was assigned serial #232697 (API Number 17081208570000). It spudded February 27, 2006 and drilled to a depth of 12,878’. On November 16, 2006 its status was reported as code 27 (Waiting On Orders). Encana converted the well to an “Observation Well” with status code 31 (Shut-In Dry Hole – Future Utility) on January 26, 2007. Since January 27, 2007, it’s last report date, it remains a code 27. From spud to final status report – 364 days. It has never been completed. Encana used the name “Jurassic” for the production zone from this well through all subsequent well and unit applications until December 9, 2008. Other operators using Jurassic for the zone also known as the Haynesville Shale (HA Reservoirs A – D) during the early months of the play, included SWEPI, Questar and EOG.
The first application for a HA/JUR Drilling & Production Unit has a curious history. Encana Oil & Gas (USA) Inc. sent a standard pre-conference notice letter for a unit application regarding the "Cotton Valley Zone, Reservoir A, Section 15, Township 13 North, Range 9 West, Martin Field, Red River Parish" dated June 15, 2006 to interested parties as required by state regulations. No request for the June 29, 2006 conference was received and the application moved to the Commissioner's Public Hearing schedule where it was assigned Docket No. 06-807 and a hearing date of August 1, 2006. The Field Order granted from that hearing is dated August 24, 2006, Order No. 1137-E. However the order citing the same Docket Number and hearing date establishes a single drilling and production unit for "Jurassic Zone, Reservoir A, in the Martin Field, Red River Parish, Louisiana". The "definition" of the unit is identical as to depths. The unit well name on the application changed from CV RA SUA, ADCOCK INVESTMENTS NO. 1 to JUR RA SUA; ADCOCK INVESTMENTS NO. 1. Encana amended the original well permit to reflect the new name on September 1, 2006.
On January 9, 2007, Samson Contour Energy E&P, LLC applied to the Commissioner of Conservation-Office of Conservation, “Re: Troy Lime Reservoir A, Sand Unit O – Dissolution; Lower Cotton Valley Sand, Reservoir A, Sand Unit O – Dissolution; Jurassic Zone, Reservoir A – Creation of Additional Units, Martin Field, Red River Parish, Louisiana”. The application stated, “To create three (3) additional drilling and production units for the exploration for and production of gas and condensate from the Jurassic Zone, Reservoir A, in the Martin Field, Red River Parish, Louisiana, said units to be designated JUR RA SUB, JUR RA SUC AND JUR RA SUD”. No one on the Interested Party list requested a conference and the application moved to the Commissioner's Public Hearing schedule for January 9, 2007 and was assigned Docket No. 07-12. The application was approved on February 6, 2007 as Order No. 1137-E-1. Samson's application came almost one year to the day after the Encana ADCOCK INV LP ETAL well permit and five and half months after the first JUR unit order. Samson Contour did not permit their first Haynesville Shale well until the Fall of 2008.
The first Haynesville Shale well by Chesapeake Energy was the SRLT 29 #1 (Serial # 234022/API Number 17017340870000), Section 29, Township 16 North, Range 15 West, Johnson Branch Field, Caddo Parish which was permitted August 25, 2006 (226 days after the Encana Adcock well). The SRLT spud September 16, 2006 and was completed as a vertical well on March 2, 2007. The first permitted Haynesville Shale horizontal was Chesapeake's ROMM 23-16-16H #1 (Serial # 235535/API Number 1701734238000) which was permitted May 10, 2007, spud May 25, 2007 and completed July 4, 2008. The first horizontal Haynesville Shale well to be completed was Chesapeake's SRLT 29 #2 (Serial # 235717/API Number 17017342570000). It was permitted June 7, 2007, spud June 20, 2007 and completed October 10, 2007. Chesapeake's first HA Unit application was heard June 10, 2007 as Docket No. 07-643. The application was for multiple units (Travis Peak, Cotton Valley "D" Sand, Cotton Valley Zone, Reservoir A and the Haynesville Zone, Reservoir A) Section 23 - Township 16 North - Range 16 West, Greenwood-Waskom Field, Caddo Parish. The application was approved as Order No. 270-MM on June 26, 2007.
The first vertical Haynesville/Jurassic zone well permitted as such was by Encana, January 12, 2006. However it was converted to an observation well and never completed. The first permitted Haynesville Shale vertical well to be completed was Chesapeake's SRLT #1 on March 2, 2007. The first horizontal well permit of a Haynesville Shale well was Chesapeake's ROMM 23-26-26H on May 10, 2007. However the first horizontal completion honor belongs to Chesapeake's SRLT #2 which though permitted 28 days later was completed on October 10, 2007. The first Haynesville Shale Drilling & Production Unit application was by Encana for the Jurassic Zone, Reservoir A, Martin Field, Red River Parish, hearing date August 24, 2006 approved as Field Order No. 1137-E on August 24, 2006. The second application for Haynesville Shale Drilling & Production Units was by Samson Contour on hearing date January 9, 2007 approved as Field Order 1137-E01 on February 6, 2007. The third unit application for the Haynesville Shale was Chesapeake's June 10, 2007, Docket No. 07-643 approved as Oder No. 270-MM on June 26, 2007.
The assignment of the term, “first”, is subjective. And arbitrary. However, it is clear that both Encana and Chesapeake recognized the tremendous potential of the Haynesville Shale and made a commitment to employ the latest technical drilling and production methods to tap that potential. Chesapeake has received a majority of the credit for “discovering” the Haynesville Shale, or at least recognizing its potential. Encana seems to prefer a lower key, less publicity driven corporate image but deserves to be recognized as the earliest of the serious shale players. Someday we may know the circumstances behind Samson Contour’s early recognition of the play’s potential but failure to fully exploit the opportunity. Actually the Haynesville Shale was not “discovered” by any of the shale players. It has been known to exist for decades and to contain hydrocarbons. The ability to produce those hydrocarbons locked in the “tight” shale formations is a product of advancing technology. The technology of horizontal drilling, 3-D seismic and hydraulic fracture stimulation. Those technological advances have transformed a high risk search for natural gas into a process more akin to manufacturing. And caused the general public to endlessly debate bonus offers, royalty percentages and lease terms. Call it a “Play” or call it a “Boom”, the Haynesville Shale commands attention and holds the promise for a brighter economic future.