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Talisman Favoring Eagle Ford Over Marcellus

Believing natural gas and oil prices will stay at their current levels "for a while," Talisman Energy Inc. could shift money from the Marcellus and Montney shales to the Eagle Ford Shale next year as its focuses on liquid-rich plays, CEO John Manzoni said Wednesday.

"Capital is likely to be reduced into the dry gas plays and redirected toward our liquids rich Eagle Ford play and also to Colombia, where we've seen success with the drillbit," Manzoni said in a third quarter conference call. The Calgary company also plans to focus more attention on its North American conventional portfolio in the coming year, believing quality assets may have been overlooked in the rush to develop shale, Manzoni said.

Finally, the company might sell successful exploration plays that have longer lead times.

Talisman is still formulating its plans and doesn't expect to announce details until early next year, but when asked what plays might see lower capital budgets in 2012 Manzoni said, "Where we've got other things to spend money on, you can expect that the allocations into both the Marcellus and the Montney are likely to be less than they are this year." That move means Talisman is following the lead of fellow Marcellus heavyweight Chesapeake Energy Corp. into more liquids-rich shale plays (see Shale Daily, April 14).

Talisman earned C$165 million (C16 cents/share) from operations in the third quarter of 2011, up from C$120 million (C12 cents/share) during the same period of 2010.

The company produced 484 MMcfe/d from North American shale in the third quarter, double the volumes from the same period last year. That bump increased its total production by 10% year over year and 3% quarter over quarter (see Shale Daily, Feb. 17).

Talisman operates 30 rigs in North American shale. The company produced 407 MMcfe/d from the Marcellus, 45 MMcfe/d from the Montney and 32 MMcfe/d from the Eagle Ford.

While Eagle Ford activities started slowly this year, they should explode in the coming months, according to Paul Blakely, executive vice president of International Operations (East). "The machine is starting to really gain momentum," he said, noting that Talisman completed 14 Eagle Ford wells this year, but expects to bring more than 30 wells online in the fourth quarter.

And Talisman recently spent C$128 million on leases contiguous to its acreage in the play. Those additions will bring activity in the Eagle Ford close to the levels of the Marcellus and Montney.

Talisman currently operates 11 rigs in the Marcellus. The company brought 34 net wells online in the third quarter and expects to produce 400 MMcf/d by the end of the year. The company is also running 11 rigs in the Montney of British Columbia, and expects to produce between 50 MMcfe/d and 60 MMcfe/d from the play by the end of the year.

While it develops those three plays, Talisman is also drilling its first pilot well in the Duvernay Shale of Alberta, and spud its first shale well for Poland in September.

Altogether, Talisman plans to drill three vertical wells in Poland between now and early next year, and after analyzing core samples return late next year to drill horizontal laterals.

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