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Range Sees 8 Bcf/d Potential from Marcellus

Range Resources Corp. has the potential to produce up to 8 Bcf/d from the Marcellus Shale, an executive said Tuesday.

Mike Middlebrook, vice president for the Northern Marcellus Shale Division, touted the potential at the UBS Global Oil & Gas Conference in Austin, TX, on Tuesday. He said the company is projecting its 10th consecutive year of double-digit production growth this year, with hydraulic fracturing (fracking) targeting super-rich liquids in southwestern Pennsylvania.

The combination of wet and dry gas is so potent that Range one day could be producing 8 Bcf/d, he told analysts. Production was about 654 MMcfe/d in the Marcellus during the first quarter of 2013.

"[I'm] not saying we're going to get there, but that's the potential. That's what we're looking at."

Range has divided its prospective acreage in Pennsylvania into three parts: Northwest, Northeast and Southwest, the last of which, a 540,000 net-acre position that is 51% held by production, is considered highly prospective for wet gas. The Southwest area is what Range is targeting today, and at 80-acre spacing, it has 6,750 potential drilling locations in the southwest area; there now are a few more than 430 producing wells in the area.

"That's about 6% of the wells' potential locations of 80 acres at our own production," Middlebrook said. "We're currently at about 500 MMcf/d in this area. If you do the numbers, that works out. If everything drilled out as planned, just in the Marcellus, we're talking about 8 Bcf/d."

According to Middlebrook, Range has further divided its Southwest area of operations into 110,000 acres of super-rich (more than 1,350 Btu), 220,000 acres of wet gas (1,050-1,350 Btu) and 210,000 acres of dry gas (less than 1,050 Btu) regions. More than 200 wet gas wells have begun producing over the last four years, with varying lateral lengths and frack stages. This year, a "typical well" will have a 3,200-foot lateral and 13 frack stages, he said.

"On average, EUR [estimated ultimate recovery] is in the range of 8.7 Bcfe. In 2013, we're going to look at some economics here. With that set up...[an] 85% rate of return, and then $5.00 gas, it will be over 100% rate of return. That's why we're focusing on this area."

Meanwhile, in the super-rich region of the Southwest area, 51 wells turned to production in 2012, with an average lateral length of 3,895 feet and 15 frack stages. This year 18 stages are planned at the wells drilled, with a projected EUR of 1.44 million boe, including 109,000 bbl of condensate, 715,000 bbl of natural gas liquids and 3.7 Bcf of gas.

"We're looking at 1.3 million bbl EUR," Middlebrook said. "In 2013, we're looking to increase...lateral lengths and the number of stages a little bit...Looking at the economics there you can see, with 3,800-foot lateral links, 18 stages at the strip, we're at 97% rate of return and $5.00 [gas price] -- 105% rate of return."

Range has "often neglected to talk about" the dry gas region in the southwestern portion of the play because the company "has been so focused on the rich area. But it's a key to talk about because it's so big. So far, we've drilled 16 wells averaging 2,900-foot lateral links with 10 stages [in the dry region]. We do expect in the future drilling to try to link in those laterals and add more stages as well. But even with that, we're looking at 7.5 Bcf EURs and the current strip, 57% rate of return with 88% at $5."

Range broke its total production record, in the Marcellus and other areas, in 1Q2013 with an output of 876 MMcfe/d, more than one-third higher year/year (see Shale Daily, April 30). In the southwestern area, 25 wells were brought online, including 20 in the wet gas region and five in dry gas. Initial production rates for the new wells averaged 11.5 MMcfe/d (9.2 net), weighted two-thirds to liquids.

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