Rosetta Resources Inc., a leading Eagle Ford Shale producer, has adopted what it says is an innovative and more efficient multi-well pad drilling strategy on its Briscoe Ranch acreage: column development.

During a 2Q2013 earnings conference call, COO John Clayton explained. “At Briscoe Ranch we are now drilling eight wells from a pad; however, these eight wells are not all in a single row of eight wellbores like our three wells from a single pad were,” he said. “Instead, they are four wells in one row and four wells in the adjacent row. In other words, the area drilled is a rectangular box that is four wells wide by two wells long.”

Clayton said Rosetta’s technical teams developed the drilling technique in order to minimize the amount of production that would have to be interrupted if the company subsequently had to drill the second row of wells at a later date after the first row had already been producing.

“However,” Clayton said, “there’s a tradeoff to doing this, which is that we need to drill nearly twice as many wells ahead of the completion operations prior to starting the completion phase of the well. And this has resulted in the number of wells drilled but not completed to be increased from past levels.”

When Rosetta made its Briscoe Ranch plans for this year, the company had intended to go with a single-row development plan. If it had stuck to that plan, more wells would have been completed and producing today, and a fairly modest number of drilled wells would be awaiting completion, Clayton said.

“However, once our teams found out that they had a more efficient way to do things, that being column development, we made the change. This meant we deferred our Briscoe completions from the first half of this year to the latter part and instead spent the time focusing on getting the number of drilled well inventory right for column development and completions, not row development.

“In doing so, today we stand at roughly 19 wells at Briscoe Ranch that have been drilled but not yet completed, a much higher than originally planned number, but very practical for a much more efficient completion practice.”

Rosetta production overall for the quarter averaged 48,800 boe/d, up 46% from the same period in 2012 and 4% from the prior quarter. The increase was a result of continued production growth from the Eagle Ford and the addition of newly acquired Permian Basin assets at mid-quarter (see Shale Daily, April 16). Production for the quarter was 62% liquids, up from 59% in 2012. Natural gas liquids (NGL) production reached an all-time high level for the quarter. Oil production was 12,200 b/d, an increase of 52% from the prior year and down 2% from the first quarter daily oil production rate.

Rosetta reaffirmed all previous annual guidance ranges for capital, production, and expenses.

The company reported net income of $75.4 million ($1.27/share) versus net income of $77 million ($1.46/share) for the second quarter of 2012. Adjusted net income was $52.3 million (88 cents/share) versus $30.6 million (58 cents/share) in 2012. The increase was primarily due to production growth in core areas.