Until now, the production of oil and gas in Louisiana has been obtained from the conventional subsurface reservoirs that are located in sandstone or limestone formations.
The Haynesville Play is predicated on shale as the subsurface source of natural gas, according to information from M.B. Kumar, Office of Conservation geologist administrator.
The shale is a rock formation mainly composed of consolidated clay-sized particles deposited and buried in the north Louisiana geological basin more than 170 million years ago during the geologic Jurassic time. It's characterized by ultra-low permeability in contrast with the conventional sandstone/limestone reservoir rocks that have high permeability.
To date, there have been 30 units (a unit being 640 acres) formed for the Haynesville Shale in the Caspiana, Metcalf and Johnson Branch fields.
A similar play in the northwest Louisiana area is the Jurassic Zone Play, Kumar said, which involves the combination of several formations, the Cotton Valley, the Bossier, the Haynesville and the Smackover or combination of the Cotton Valley and one or more of these formations.
The Haynesville shale debuted on the energy stage early last month during conference calls by small operators Goodrich Petroleum and Petrohawk Energy. But the play really captured rave reviews when shale slugger Chesapeake Energy revealed its presence there a couple of weeks later.
Chesapeake said it already believed it had 7.5 Tcfe of Haynesville reserve potential across its net 200,000 acres, but estimated up to 20 Tcfe with anticipated company acreage increases to 500,000 net acres. Those kind of numbers, coupled with whatever Petrohawk and Goodrich acreage might hold, potentially class the Haynesville in almost the same league as the Barnett Shale, whose estimated 29 to 39 Tcfe (3 Tcfe of which have already been produced) have ranked it among the US' biggest gas fields.
Chesapeake, which said it had hoped to keep Haynesville secret but largely devoted a conference call to its initial findings in the play after the two smaller operators leaked out news of its existence, has been by far the most vocal on the Haynesville's potential.
Chesapeake CEO Aubrey McClendon is putting his money where his mouth is, personally buying all the Chesapeake stock he can get his hands on. So far, that is about $100,000,000 worth.
Meanwhile, Devon Energy Corp. chairman and chief executive Larry Nichols addressed some 800 attendees at this year’s Developing Unconventional Gas conference in Fort Worth this week, hosted by Oil and Gas Investor and E&P magazines, publications of Hart Energy Publishing.
His thoughts on the Haynesville shale: “You don’t drill a couple of wells and say anything is the next Barnett shale.”