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Louisiana Already Reaping Rewards from Haynesville Shale

Fueled by the emerging Haynesville Shale, the Louisiana Mineral Board (LMB) collected a record-breaking $48.7 million in lease payments from its July lease sale.

Eight tracts totaling about 1,600 acres in the Haynesville Shale that were being leased by the LMB on behalf of local governments accounted for $46.5 million of the sale total. The total exceeded June's record sale of $35.8 million, which also was lifted by leases in the Haynesville Shale.

"It appears that with the Haynesville Shale discovery under way, several major companies are validating their intentions to develop and produce natural gas in a big way," said LMB chief Scott Angelle, who also is secretary of the state's Department of Natural Resources. "The state's energy production figures look to be on the upswing this year."

Seven of the northwestern Louisiana leases are located in Caddo Parish, LA, with sales averaging more than $30,000 per acre. The Caddo Parish Commission received bonus money totaling $17.7 million on around 585 acres in a bid offered by Petrohawk Energy Corp. The DeSoto Parish Police Jury earned $28.7 million in bonus cash payments, also from a bid offered by Petrohawk via Theophilus Oil, Gas and Land Services to lease 1,045 acres.

According to the LMB, the royalties from any natural gas production would be at 27.5% for DeSoto and 30% for Caddo. Petrohawk also could wait to develop the leases, and if so, DeSoto could receive $14.3 million a year, or $42.9 million total, compared with $8.8 million annually, or $26.4 million, for Caddo.

Producers are moving into the prospective shale play in Louisiana and across parts of East Texas' Cotton Valley formation in the Bossier Sands and many are forming joint ventures to share costs and discoveries. Energy consultant Wood Mackenzie, among others, suggested earlier this month that the Haynesville Shale could become the fastest growing shale play to date in the Lower 48, based on initial results from operators (see related story).

Goodrich Petroleum Corp. last week completed a joint venture transaction with Chesapeake Energy Corp. to develop a leasehold in Caddo and DeSoto parishes (see NGI, July 7). With the completion of the transaction, Goodrich has around 22,000 net acres in northern Louisiana. Goodrich also has about 38,500 net acres in the Minden and Beckville field areas in Panola and Rusk counties, TX.

Mainland Resources Inc., a junior explorer, and Petrohawk last week also agreed to jointly develop Mainland's 2,695 net acres in DeSoto Parish. Petrohawk agreed to pay 100% of the costs to develop the first well in the holdings, as well as the costs for the pipeline connections. Petrohawk also agreed to pay 80% of all of the costs for the second well drilled on the leases, and for the third and all subsequent wells drilled on the leases, Petrohawk agreed to pay 60% of the costs.

And Dallas-based EXCO Resources Inc. has engaged Goldman, Sachs & Co. to explore possible joint ventures to develop its East Texas/North Louisiana and Appalachia operating areas. EXCO's reserves in East Texas/North Louisiana include more than 2.7 Tcfe of proved, probable and possible reserves, of which 1.1 Tcfe is proved. EXCO's interests also include 292,000 net acres, 255 MMcfe/d of net production and more than 3,000 undrilled Cotton Valley, Hosston and other conventional locations. Acreage also includes more than 115,000 net acres in the Bossier/Haynesville plays.

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