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2010-08-19 digital edition

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2010-08-19 / General Stories

Another Eagle is Flying High

by John Philip Kalmbach
to produce directly from the Eagle Ford Shale. The Eagle Ford Shale formation is divided into two producing trends - the “updip” and the “downdip” - with each trend having its own unique production characteristics. The “updip” portion of the formation is shallower, rich in oil, and will produce some gas while the “downdip” portion of the formation is deeper, rich in natural gas and condensate, and will produce some oil. To help visualize the extent and location of this formation in Lee County, the division of the “updip” and “downdip” trends can be approximated by following Texas Highway 21 across Lee County. To the North and West of HWY 21 is the “updip” and to the South and East is the “downdip”.

With the BP Gulf tragedy focusing attention on the perils of offshore oil and gas exploration and production, land based oil and gas exploration and production is once again more important than ever. Moreover, similar to the oil boom of the 1970’s and 1980’s, Lee County is in the bullseye for new oil and gas production. The geologic formation currently causing the most excitement is the Eagle Ford Shale. Named for an outcrop near Eagle Ford, Texas, this geologic formation is sandwiched between the Austin Chalk formations and the Buda and Georgetown formations at depths ranging from near surface to more than 14,000 feet in South Texas. This formation has long been associated with oil and gas production from the Austin Chalk formation but companies are just now developing the technology With the BP Gulf tragedy focusing attention on the perils of offshore oil and gas exploration and production, land based oil and gas exploration and production is once again more important than ever. Moreover, similar to the oil boom of the 1970’s and 1980’s, Lee County is in the bullseye for new oil and gas production. The geologic formation currently causing the most excitement is the Eagle Ford Shale. Named for an outcrop near Eagle Ford, Texas, this geologic formation is sandwiched between the Austin Chalk formations and the Buda and Georgetown formations at depths ranging from near surface to more than 14,000 feet in South Texas. This formation has long been associated with oil and gas production from the Austin Chalk formation but companies are just now developing the technology Fortunately, Lee County is beginning to feel the effect of this excitement with various companies leasing several thousands of acres in the past five years and with actual drilling activities being completed primarily by Forrest Oil Company, Geo Southern Energy, and Clayton Williams Energy. At this time, however, many of the companies drilling wells in our area appear to be doing so in an effort to determine the extent and the potential of the Eagle Ford Shale in Lee County. As these companies gather information and build a base of data on which to pinpoint the most productive areas in the Eagle Ford Shale, prime locations will see an increase in drilling and production activity.

In addition to the Eagle Ford Shale activity, several companies are continuing to pursue drilling in the Austin Chalk formation that was the reason for the first oil boom in Lee County. Even with all of the drilling and production in the 1970’s and 1980’s, using new technology and better data, several companies are drilling small vertical and horizontal wells in the Austin Chalk that are providing sound production each month. Additionally, other companies continue to explore other geologic formations that have proven productive in the past. Formations above the Austin Chalk, such as the Wilcox Sands, the Navarro Sands, the Pecan Gap Shale, provide significant production in the area each month in the County with a tremendous amount of activity just East of Lexington in the Navarro Sands formation.

With oil and gas reserves continuing to dwindle worldwide, several deeper formations will provide activity in the future for Lee County. Located beneath the Georgetown/Buda formations is the Edwards Limestone formation. Below this are the Cotton Valley Sand formation, the Bossier Shale formation, the Cotton Valley Shale and finally the Smackover formation. The Bossier and Cotton Valley formations are highly productive natural gas formations and the Smackover consists of a very high methane content natural gas. Currently there is limited production from the Edwards formation but no one is currently exploring or producing from the other deeper formations.

As a wise old oilman once said, “You don’t know what’s in the ground unless you drill. And if you don’t drill, you won’t know what’s in the ground.” While technology has developed to help determine what is beneath our feet, this statement holds true even today. There are certainly no guarantees, but the location of Eagle Ford Shale and other formations in our area should give hope for landowners in Lee County to reap the benefits of future oil and gas exploration in our area.

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