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Columbia Hits Whopper Deep Appalachian Find

Columbia Hits Whopper Deep Appalachian Find

Calling it the largest reserve discovery in the Appalachian Basin, Columbia Natural Resources (CNR), a Columbia Energy Group subsidiary, said it found reserves with estimated production of 50 MMcf/d while drilling deep into a sub-basin in Roane County, WV. The exploratory test well was drilled to a depth of 10,300 feet in the Trenton-Black River Formation on the Vineyard Ridge prospect.

"The well demonstrated a significant flow of natural gas as we drilled into the top of the formation; certainly it was far more than anything we expected based on past experience," said W. Henry Harmon, CNR's CEO.

The preliminary finding dwarfs the average estimate for production from an Appalachian Basin reserve, which is usually between 0.5 MMcf/d and 0.75 MMcf/d, Larry Malone, a CNR spokesman said.

The company is scheduled to start drilling an offset well this fall, which will confirm the initial findings and indicate if there are any more reserves in the area. Production from the Roane County well is scheduled to begin in July.

Columbia plans to connect the well to a natural gas gathering facility for initial production while it builds a pipeline that will feed directly into Columbia Gas Transmission. The site is just 20 miles from Columbia's office in Charleston, WV.

CNR is one of the largest players in the Appalachian Basin. "It is our core production area," Malone said. The company owns 7,700 wells and 2.6 million net acres in the basin with a total reserve base of 840 Bcf.

Meanwhile, Columbia Energy Group has asked the Securities and Exchange Commission to allow it to increase its investment in oil and natural gas E&P properties in Canada from $5 million to $55 million. Columbia, a registered holding company under the Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935, must get SEC approval for foreign ventures. The company said its Columbia Natural Resources Canada Ltd. operates properties in areas similar to its Appalachian Basin holdings in the U.S. It plans to spend $50 million over three years developing additional properties in the same area.

John Norris

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