Fracking Woes Halt Drilling

Tuesday, December 31, 2013 @ 01:12 PM gHale

Goodrich Petroleum Corp., one of the largest leaseholders in the emerging Tuscaloosa Marine Shale area, has problems with one of its key wells.

Test results for a well located in Amite County, MS, near the Louisiana border face a delay until early next year as the company works to unclog it. The well, called Huff 18-7H-1, was near completion and was producing oil and gas when it ended up clogged with debris during the drilling process.

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The Tuscaloosa Marine Shale oil region covers central Louisiana and southwest Mississippi.

Houston-based Goodrich is trying to use new horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, techniques to tap into oil and gas trapped in the hard layer of rock that makes up the Tuscaloosa Marine Shale. During fracking, drillers pump a mix of water, sand and chemicals underground at high pressure, cracking open the rock to release oil and gas. Horizontal drilling allows companies to frack multiple sections of an oil reserve from a single well.

Experts estimate the Tuscaloosa Marine Shale holds 2.7 billion barrels of oil spanning much of central Louisiana, from Vernon Parish on the western side into Washington and St. Tammany parishes as well as a section of southwest Mississippi to the east.

But companies have struggled to find the right formula to drill profitable wells. Oil in the Tuscaloosa Marine Shale is deeper underground and the rock is full of naturally-occurring cracks that make it easier for debris to fall into and clog wells. The cost of drilling a well in the Tuscaloosa remains much higher than in other parts of the country.

Goodrich made a big move into the area in August when it purchased more than 270,000 acres located largely in Louisiana from Devon Energy Corp. of Oklahoma City for $26.7 million. Goodrich has a history of using new techniques to lower the cost of drilling in areas such as the Eagle Ford Shale in Texas and the Haynesville Shale in northwest Louisiana. Company executives said they can do the same in the Tuscaloosa Marine Shale.

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