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Haynesville Shale drilling expanding to S. AR

Published: Sep. 4, 2008 at 4:26 PM CDT|Updated: Feb. 16, 2010 at 10:20 PM CST
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MAGNOLIA, Ark. (AP) - A couple of gas companies drilling in the Haynesville Shale formation in north Louisiana have acquired permits to drill at three sites in Columbia County in south Arkansas.

The Haynesville Shale stretches across parts of Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas and holds an estimated 29 to 39 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, though the range of the formation is not fully known. The Fayetteville Shale formation in central Arkansas holds an estimated 20 trillion cubic feet.

It's not clear whether the companies interested in Columbia County intend to tap the Haynesville formation, but the planned wells would go quite deep. Two wells would go 8,800 feet and one would go 11,000 feet, and one is to be horizontally drilled.

Discovery of the Haynesville Shale was announced by Chesapeake Energy Corp. on March 25. Chesapeake Energy Corp. spokesman Saire Joubert says the Haynesville Shale's close proximity to Columbia County and its unknown boundaries would lead to natural gas exploration in Columbia County.

"According to our producers, the boundaries have not yet been discovered. It doesn't mean that you're not included, but it doesn't mean that you are included. Chesapeake and the other companies are planning to produce within boundaries that have been discovered and then once that has started, they will begin looking to expand those boundaries," Joubert told the Banner-News in Magnolia.

The Louisiana Department of Natural Resources' description of the Haynesville Shale says it extends into southwestern Arkansas.

Major players in the Fayetteville Shale development, including Southwestern Energy Co. and Chesapeake, have committed billions of dollars to getting the gas out of the ground. The companies have been paying landowners for rights to drill. Joubert said south Arkansas could see a smaller scale pursuit of leases.

"If there are good indications of production capabilities, you might see the same level of interest as what has been going on here," Joubert said.

She said the Haynesville shale is currently being explored by geoscientists and petrophysicists using three-dimensional seismic testing and actual well drilling. No time frame was given for expansion of production outside Louisiana.

"It is based on your ability to get rigs, for one thing. There are several factors, mainly your ability to get rigs," she said.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)