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Sanchez Drilling Quicker, Cheaper in Eagle Ford; TMS Well Coming Up

Accelerated completions and more pad drilling helped Houston-based Sanchez Energy Corp. triple first quarter production from a year ago. Eagle Ford Shale operations are in full development mode, and the company expects to spud its first Tuscaloosa Marine Shale (TMS) well next month.

First quarter production was 18,784 boe/d, representing an increase of 376% compared to the same period a year ago. Volumes were 72% oil, 15% natural gas liquids (NGL), and 13% natural gas. Currently, Sanchez is producing about 21,000 boe/d and has 13 gross wells in various stages of completion.

CEO Tony Sanchez said the company has cut drill times by 40%, and doubled the number of hydraulic fracture stages it pumps per day while decreasing total well costs by 30% across its Eagle Ford operations.

"Production of 18,784 boe/d for the first quarter of 2014 is within our guidance range of 18,000-20,000 boe/d and at the high end of our recent guidance updates," Sanchez said. "We were able to accelerate some completions that were originally planned for early 2014 into last year's fourth quarter, resulting in the majority of the 20 gross (14 net) new wells for the quarter coming online in late February and March."

Operations include "much more pad drilling," raising production to the current 21,000 boe/d, he said. "Moving forward, we expect strong -- if a bit uneven -- production growth, which is customary with more aggressive pad drilling. We view this as a welcome tradeoff, as this more efficient drilling practice is a significant driver of our reported cost savings. That noted, we reiterate our full year 2014 production guidance range of 21,000-23,000 boe/d."

The company has six gross rigs running in the Eagle Ford. "In the Five Mile Creek area of Marquis, we are drilling the last well of a four-well pad, which is expected to further derisk that 10,000 net acre position," Sanchez said. "We also recently brought online the Prost O #1H -- our sixth and final pilot well in the Marquis appraisal program -- at rates consistent with our other Prost area wells.

"After cleaning out the Sante North #1H well in our Marquis area, the well was returned to production with an initial 24-hour production rate of 215 boe/d. While we continue to monitor production in the Lower Eagle Ford section of the Sante-area wells, we plan to shift appraisal focus to other horizons, including the Upper Eagle Ford and Austin Chalk in the greater Sante area."

The first TMS well is the Dry Fork East #2H, in Wilkinson County, MS, which is to be spud next month and have a 7,000-foot lateral. "Our plan is to appraise the acreage by drilling a pilot hole, taking extensive cores and running additional logs as we build our knowledge base in this area," Sanchez said. This year in the TMS, Sanchez expects to spud four gross operated wells and participate in 10-15 non-operated wells. The company entered the play last summer through multiple transactions (see Shale DailyAug. 9, 2013).

"The next several months should see a steadily increasing number of TMS well results from multiple operators," Sanchez said.

The bulk of TMS acreage is in Louisiana, where the state’s Department of Natural Resources reported a total of 20 producing wells, and six pre-production wells as of March 23.

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