Cores reveal brittle, frac-able rock in Smackover’s Brown Dense

Though minimal success was reaped in other areas, Southwestern Energy Co., believes it has a good chance of yielding untouched minerals beneath the former Smackover Field by employing an unconventional method of drilling to the recently-discovered “brittle” rock.

In a conference call held by Seeking Alpha, Southwestern President Steve Mueller admits there’s no way of knowing if the entire play is full of the same frac-able rock, but the cores drilled revealed the Lower Smackover Brown Dense formation to have a high permeability and porosity.

Of the 32 wells drilled into the Brown Dense, 17 were mud logged and 11 of those revealed oil, Mueller said. From the 32 cores samples, one rock revealed the promising brittle quality Southwestern was looking for.

“I can’t tell you the whole play is going to be brittle,” he said. “But that’s kind of the basis for encouragement for what we’re doing.”

By drilling first vertically and then turning the drill horizontally for several thousand feet, Mueller hopes to find the same type of rock within the play. That rock, he said, will be much more susceptible to the variety of chemicals used when hydraulic fracturing the well.

The company will begin with two wells in the Brown Dense this year pending a permitting by the Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission — comprised of Union and Columbia counties and Union Parish, La. — and plans for 10 more in 2012 should testing prove positive.

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