Barnett takes a backseat to Haynesville as nation's leading shale play

ByOil & Gas Financial Journal staff

Louisiana’s Haynesville Shale is now the nation’s highest-producing shale gas play, surpassing the Barnett Shale in Texas, said the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) March 18, citing reported pipeline flows. Long the country’s premier shale gas producer, the Barnett was overshadowed by the Louisiana section of the Haynesville in February when, even after its recovery from the winter’s well freeze-offs, natural gas production from the Louisiana Haynesville surpassed its volumes.

The EIA listed several factors as takeover contributors.

Gas-directed drilling in the newer Haynesville is on the rise, while flattening somewhat in the Barnett. “As gas-directed drilling in the Barnett slows and natural gas prices remain relatively low, operators are turning their attention to the more liquids-rich areas of the play, thereby reducing the emphasis on gas,” noted the EIA.

Technology and experience also plays a large role. Reported pipeline flows show nearly a decade of shale-focused drilling to reach 5 billion cubic feet (bcf) per day in the Barnett. Haynesville operators now use the experience gained from those early horizontal drilling programs to more rapidly ramp up natural gas production. That same 5 bcf/d benchmark took only three years to surpass in the Haynesville.

Regional infrastructure is also a key factor as its expansion helps to accommodate the Haynesville's rising natural gas production. Pipeline capacity expansions were recently completed on the Regency, Midcon Express, and Gulf Crossing systems, each of which transports Haynesville gas.

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