Petrohawk Energy Corp. got into the Eagle Ford Shale and moved fast. Those are the keys to success in shale plays, the company's vice president of exploration, Charles Cusack, told a Houston audience Wednesday.

Poring over old well logs, Petrohawk honed in on the Hawkville area. Critical to success is mapping the sweet spot, Cusack said. "That's really the first thing you have to do in any of these trends." Weighing the science against the risk, Petrohawk believed it could make something of Hawkville.

"We're a back-of-the-envelope kind of company," Cusack told attendees at the North American Prospect Expo Business Conference. "When we go, we go fast. You go full speed ahead..."

The company quickly acquired acreage. In the sweet spot it can be costly to buy acreage, but also in the sweet spot the economics "are stellar" and will make up for the cost, he said.

Petrohawk confirmed its hunches with horizontal wells. "That's how you're really going to know what you have," Cusack said. Petrohawk also is a proponent of shooting 3-D seismic across its plays. "There are a lot of little faults, and you want to know where they are," Cusack said. "And there are some pretty good-sized faults."

All that hard work that was begun around 2007 paid off last month when Australia's BHP Billiton Ltd. offered to buy Petrohawk for $12.1 billion (see Shale Daily, July 18). At the time of the deal's announcement analysts at Canaccord Genuity Energy Research ascribed to the Eagle Ford 60% of the deal's value with about 40% for the company's Haynesville Shale position and minor value assigned to Permian Basin holdings.