A well in the Eagle Ford Shale in South Texas drilled by Pioneer Natural Resources Co. flowed at an initial production rate of 11.3 MMcfe/d, the producer said last week.

The well in Live Oak County, TX, flowed 8.3 MMcf/d of natural gas and 500 b/d of condensate on a 22/64-inch choke with 4,550 pounds per square inch wellhead flowing pressure. The well, which is producing to sales, was drilled to a "true" vertical depth of around 13,000 feet and completed in a 2,600-foot lateral section with a nine-stage fracture stimulation (frac), said Pioneer.

"The initial results of the Sinor #5 discovery are very encouraging, especially considering the significant volume of higher-valued condensate and natural gas liquids," said CEO Scott Sheffield. "This discovery, coupled with the Eagle Ford Shale wells recently completed by others, reinforces our expectation that this shale play will be very prolific."

Pioneer was one of the first movers into the Eagle Ford and to date it has accumulated 310,000 gross acres along the Edwards Reef Trend. Houston-based Petrohawk Energy Corp. was another first mover, with more than 210,000 net acres. Today at least 10 producers have development under way ConocoPhillips, Apache Corp. (see related stories), Chesapeake Energy Corp., EOG Resources Inc., El Paso Corp. and XTO Energy Inc. The play also is drawing overseas interest from Australia's Texon Petroleum Ltd.

Low gas prices in the first half of this year led Pioneer to stop drilling in its core Raton Basin and Midcontinent properties, but it continued to "actively access" the Eagle Ford leasehold. Pioneer's first horizontal well in the play was frac'd in the second quarter. There were mechanical problems, but the well still delivered an initial flow rate of 3.7 MMcfe/d with only two of five fracture stimulation stages contributing, the company said.

"Our South Texas team has extensive experience drilling horizontal wells in the Edwards formation, which lies directly below the Eagle Ford formation," said Sheffield. "When combined with our greater than 2,000 square miles of 3-D seismic data, logs from more than 150 operated wells, proprietary core samples and existing infrastructure, we are confident in our ability to unlock the significant resource potential contained within our 310,000 gross acres in the play."

The Sinor #5 well is the first of a five-well program initiated by Pioneer in August to assess the resource potential across the Dallas-based producer's acreage. Pioneer now plans to expand the five-well program using one rig through 2010 "and will evaluate a further expansion as additional drilling results become known." Pioneer said it has spud its second well and expects to test the benefits of longer laterals and additional frac stages.

The latest news from the Eagle Ford Shale is "icing on the cake" for Pioneer, said analysts at Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co. Securities Inc. The Pioneer well was drilled between existing producers in the play so the "lateral length was limited by the lease line," the analysts noted. Expectations are for "longer laterals going forward," which would push production higher.

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