Marathon Oil Corp.’s decision to expand into key resource plays in North America appears to be paying off, with the company ramping up a 15-25 natural gas well program in a new prospect in the Woodford Shale, which eventually could yield 200-300 drilling locations.

The Cana No. 1-15H discovery well, located in the Brickyard prospect in Canadian County, OK, flowed at an initial production rate of 5.2 MMcf/d, Marathon said. The well was drilled to a total depth of 17,267 feet, including a true vertical depth of 13,177 feet and horizontally for 4,090 feet. Marathon operates the well and holds a 57% stake; Questar Corp. and Cimarex Energy Corp. are joint stakeholders.

“Marathon is encouraged by the results of the Brickyard prospect as we continue to develop the emerging Woodford Shale resource play,” said Marathon’s Annell R. Bay, senior vice president, Worldwide Exploration. “We are using 3-D seismic technology to better define our targets and applying advanced drilling technology to reduce drilling days and well costs, thereby improving overall well economics.”

The Cana well was Marathon’s first using a patented technology that it jointly developed with BJ Services, GEODynamics and Expro Group. The EXcape Completion Process, an interventionless well completion technology, allowed Marathon to remotely perforate, fracture stimulate and complete each individual interval zone for production, which included setting and removing the isolation devices. Based on the success of the Cana well completion, Marathon plans to use the technology in other Woodford Shale wells, as well as its Cook Inlet operations in Alaska.

“Compared to conventional completions using pump-down techniques in horizontal wells, the EXcape technology reduced man-hours on this well completion by more than 35% and reduced completion costs by 10%,” Bay said.

Marathon holds around 30,000 net acres in the Woodford Shale, including 10,000 acres in the Brickyard prospect area. Two additional Marathon-operated wells are under way in the Brickyard prospect, and Marathon also is participating in two nonoperated wells. Up to 25 wells are planned in the region over the next two years, and Marathon expects to have a 50% overall stake in the drilling. The limited program would “enhance the company’s technical understanding of the play” and it “reflects the company’s focus on capital discipline,” the company said.

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