Southwestern optimistic about second well

After delving into the reasons to oppose the proposed 2 percent increase to the state’s natural gas severance tax, a representative of Southwestern Energy Company briefly updated goings-on in the Lower Smackover Brown Dense formation.

Though he’s obligated to keep numerical information under lock and key until the next quarterly meeting, Danny Ferguson, Southwestern’s vice president of government and media relations, told the El Dorado Rotary Club on Monday that despite lackluster numbers from the Columbia County Roberson Well, the company has high hopes for its second well which should be completed in Louisiana this week.

Southwestern President and CEO Steve Mueller has been quoted extensively saying a well must produce 400 to 500 barrels of oil per day (bpd) to be considered successful. However, as of the eighth day of production at the Roberson Well, the result was a disappointing 103 bpd, according to the February meeting.

However, Ferguson attributed the low number to a combination of learning experience and the need to delve into a lower porosity area to avoid hydraulic fracturing (fracking) near a salt water surface which would have taken away some of the power behind the fracking.

Southwestern has become particularly well known for its development of the Fayetteville Shale in northern Arkansas by using an unconventional method of vertical drilling followed by horizontal drilling and fracking — the process of shooting highly-pressurized water, chemicals and sand into the rock below to reap natural gas. The company is now attempting the same method to drill below the Upper Smackover, which was exhausted in the 1920s.

The third well will be spud in Louisiana and will be followed by a fourth well — of five budgeted for this year — to be drilled in Arkansas, Ferguson said. He was unsure where the well would be drilled.

Southwestern has high hopes for the second well, Ferguson said, explaining that despite the expensive price tag of test drilling he anticipates each well will improve on its predecessor as the method becomes more defined. So far, science has revealed that longer laterals and more fracking intervals is the key to better results, he added.

Other companies in the field, including XTO Energy, of Texas, and Devon Energy, of Oklahoma, have agreed to share information in an effort to save money, Ferguson said.

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