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VOC Brazos Energy Partners LP has struck a joint venture agreement with Hawkwood Energy East Texas LLC to develop the lower Eaglebine interval, also referred to as the Lower Woodbine Organic Shale (LWOS), within the southern half of the Kurten Woodbine Unit (contract area). The JV will recommence the Brazos horizontal LWOS drilling development program. Under the terms, Hawkwood Energy may carry VOC Brazos for its share of drilling and completion costs for up to four LWOS wells (earning wells), with the first to be spud by Dec. 31, 2017 and the fourth to be spud by Jan. 1, 2019. In exchange, Hawkwood Energy would earn a working interest representing 50% of VOC Brazos' interest in each earning well and up to a 50% interest in VOC Brazos' acreage in the contract area. Hawkwood Energy also would have the right to propose and drill up to eight LWOS wells per year in the contract area after the earning wells are completed.
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has determined that regulations for constructing coal mines and natural gas wells near one another are adequate and don't need to be changed. The agency made its decision after reviewing a study proposing changes to current requirements for coal mine pillars and alternative methods for constructing natural gas wells where coal is mined underground. Coal mine pillars are columns left in place to support a mine and protect against gas wells drilled in the permitted area. Gas extraction is increasingly intersecting with longwall coal mining in the state. The study was required by 2011 legislation, and it was conducted by an engineering consulting firm in cooperation with the agency, the Pennsylvania Coal Alliance and the Marcellus Shale Coalition. The DEP said its analysis of the study's recommendations concluded that they could not be implemented as an alternative to current standards, which they deemed to be safer.