10 Biggest Shale Plays in the US
Permian: Western Texas
With a natural gas production of 5 billion cubic feet per day and an oil production of 1.3 million barrels each day, Permian in western Texas is one of the larger shale plays in the United States. In fact, drilling in this area started in the 1920s. However, since the advent of the technology available to drill for both the oil and natural gas, companies that drill here have been able to get more from their efforts.
Eagle Ford: Southern Texas
Eagle Ford is one of the biggest shale plays in the country. This play offers a large amount of both oil and natural gas. This shale extracts about 1.2 million barrels of oil every single day. In addition to this, the drilling helps extract well over 6 billion cubic feet of natural gas each day. Four companies make up about 45 percent of the drilling that happens here. This is a large area of land, covering over 400 miles in length.
Marcellus: Appalachian Basin
The Marcellus play is one of the smallest oil producers in the United States. This play only offers about 50,000 barrels of oil per day. On the other hand, it is one of the largest natural gas producers in the country. Drilling in Marcellus produces about 13 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day. This is because the majority of the drilling sites focus on the natural gas that is prevalent in the area. In fact, eight of ten drill spots on this play are focused on getting the natural gas.
Niobrara: South Dakota, Colorado, Nebraska, and WyomingImage via Flickr by Tim Dorr
The natural gas production of the Niobrara play is about 4.6 billion cubic feet per day, while the oil production is 287,000 barrels per day. This play is large, and spans four different states – South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, and Colorado. However, the majority of the drilling activity happens in the northeast section of Colorado. With companies who have development programs that are aggressive, it’s no surprise that this is one of the big plays in the country.
The Barnett play has been called the largest natural gas field onshore in the United States. It covers over 5,000 square miles in Texas. Because of the rock and sand that is around the hydrocarbon deposits, this is also one of the most difficult plays to extract. Luckily, with the technology that we have today, such as hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, we are able to get more of these resources than ever. Drillers on this play are able to produce about 4.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas and they get about 15,500 barrels of crude oil each day.
Haynesville: Louisiana, Arkansas, and Texas
Haynesville play is known as one of the big players in getting production companies to rethink their business practices and models. It also helped significantly in lowering the price of natural gas in the United States. In fact, this play produces about 10 percent of the United States’ daily supply of natural gas. This play yields 6.7 billion cubic feet of natural gas and 57,000 barrels of oil each day, making it one of the biggest contenders for shale plays in the country.
Bakken: Montana and North Dakota
The Bakken play is smaller than the Eagle Ford play. It produces about 1 million barrels of oil per day. The gas production is significantly less than most of the others, only getting about 1 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day. This has long been known as a great shale play, but until recently the technology was not available to properly drill here. It has been considered one of the best and biggest oil discoveries in recent history.
Anadarko-Woodford: West-Central Oklahoma
The Anadarko-Woodford shale play was first drilled in 2005. This shale play offers about 1,300 barrels of oil per day as well as 47,000 cubic feet of natural gas. It is expected that the Anadarko-Woodford shale play has approximately 22.2 Tcf of recoverable gas. There are nearly 900 wells across the play, and the rig count has stayed fairly over the last few years.
Granite Wash: Texas and Oklahoma
With a rich area of mineral deposits, the panhandle area of Oklahoma and Texas makes for a great drilling area for natural gas and crude oil. There are formations at approximately 11,000-15,000 feet in the Granite Wash play. The wells in this play have up to 15 frac stages. This play produces about 27 million cubic feet of natural gas and nearly 3,200 barrels per day of oil. This is also a newer play, meaning that production is expected to increase over time.
Utica: New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia
When considering shale plays, it’s important to remember that many of them have been well-known for several years. The Utica play however is one of the newest discoveries for natural gas not only in the United States, but in all of North America. Development on the play only started in 2011. The Utica play gets about 1,425 barrels of oil and 9.5 million cubic feet of natural gas in a 24 hour period. It is possible that this will peak much higher as technology and drilling continues.
With so many drilling plays in the country, it’s no surprise that the United States is set to be the world’s largest producer of oil by 2015. With all of the technology that has gone into the drilling, and the expanse of the shale plays, natural gas prices have fallen in the United States in the last several years. There is hope that as more crude oil is produced in the country, gas prices will fall as well.