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Noble Guiding Year-End Output Higher on Strength of U.S. Portfolio

Houston-based Noble Energy Inc. on Wednesday increased its production forecast for the final three months of the year based on improved completion techniques in the Eagle Ford Shale and Denver-Julesburg Basin (DJ), as well as initial results from wells in the Gulf of Mexico.

Fourth quarter output is expected to be 405,000-415,000 boe/d, with the midpoint representing a 15,000 boe/d increase from a prior forecast. Actual volumes sold in October and November "exceeded expectations" because of improved completion practices in the Eagle Ford in South Texas and the DJ in Colorado.

"We are finishing 2015 with tremendous operating momentum and performance across the business," Gary W. Willingham, executive vice president of operations, said.

The most recent three wells in the Eagle Ford, the Gates 05D 10-20, 14-20 and 18-20, "were all completed with reduced stage and cluster spacing, increased proppant concentration and more conservative pressure management."

Average 30-day initial production rates for each of the wells, with  lateral lengths for each of about 7,000 feet, was 4,885 boe/d (10-20), 6,050 boe/d (14-20) and 6,300 Boe/d (18-20).

Noble already was reaping efficiencies from its onshore well designs. It spent 14% less sequentially in 3Q2015 to build wells using more efficient methods in the Texas and northern Colorado plays (see Shale DailyNov. 2). The Eagle Ford and DJ also are expected to attract most of Noble's funding in 2016, CEO Dave Stover said last month.

The operator also is reporting production gains from  an "accelerated ramp-up and early performance of Big Bend and Dantzler in the Gulf of Mexico. Combined, the two deepwater fields have already achieved their targeted peak production rate of 20,000 boe/d net to Noble Energy."

In addition, 4Q2015 volumes in the other U.S. onshore, West Africa and Israel assets "is consistent with to slightly better than prior expectations," management said.   

The capital budget for this year "remains unchanged and fourth quarter capital will be the lowest quarterly spend of the year," Willingham said. "We've positioned the company to operate within cash flow while still being able to deliver modest pro forma annual volume growth in 2016."

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