A kissing cousin of the Haynesville Shale may prove to be its equal or better, according to preliminary findings by two of the largest natural gas producers in the country.

The Bossier Sands, sometimes referred to as the “Bossier Shale,” “Deep Bossier Sands” or even interchangeably with the Haynesville Shale, is beginning to come into its own. It’s certainly not a “new” play; producers have been drilling wells there for quite a long time. However, recent results in the mid-Bossier play, which is stacked on top of parts of the Haynesville Shale, about 500 feet closer to the earth’s surface, that are causing a buzz.

An initial well test in its mid-Bossier acreage in Louisiana “appears to have similar rock properties to the Haynesville,” EOG CEO Mark Papa told financial analysts Wednesday. “It indicates this Bossier zone is separate from the underlying Haynesville zone, which would give us two viable targets over 160,000 net acres.”

The Bossier play, like the Haynesville, extends across portions of north Louisiana into East Texas. The core counties in Texas appear to be Panola, Harrison and Shelby; noncore counties are Marion, Nacogdoches, Rusk and San Augustine. The mid-Bossier is centered in DeSoto Parish, LA.

Having more than one target to drill for gas is a good thing; having double-digit initial production rates is even better.

EOG’s Sustainable Forest 5 No. 2 Alt well in DeSoto Parish, LA, “blow tested at a 13 MMcf/d flow rate” with 7,625 pounds/square inch (psi) flowing cubic pressure, said Papa. Based on its tests, the Houston-based producer plans to drill 70 gross Haynesville/Bossier wells this year, and “this area will be the largest single driver of our 2% year/year North American gas growth.”

“As we see it now, we drill a separate well to develop this Bossier and then another well to develop the Haynesville,” said Papa. “So we’re not looking at two laterals in the same well bore — at least at this junction. The significance…is that it looks to us, based on the couple of months production performance for this Sustainable Forest well, that the productivity and the reserves from the Bossier are about identical to our typical Haynesville well…

“That’s pretty critical,” he said. When EOG monitored the Sustainable Forest well during a hydraulic fracture (frac) stimulation, “we know that the frac did not go down into the Haynesville. What’s coming out of the well bore of that well is Bossier production and not Haynesville production.

“And where that leads us to, if you take our 160,000 acres, our best guess at this time is that over half that acreage has both zones. So, this is a pretty big deal in terms of what it could mean for total reserves on our acreage in Haynesville.”

Loren Leiker, EOG senior executive vice president for exploration, explained that “it’s really just geology of where that particular zone is deposited. It’s not present in some parts of the play…it’s clay rich in some parts…and in other parts it cleans up and loses clay content and becomes just as good in terms of frosting permeability and actually as pressured as the Haynesville itself.”

Leiker would not comment on how much of EOG’s leasehold may extend across both zones, but he said its likely “the substantial part of our acreage [by] at least 50%.”

On Thursday Calgary-based EnCana executives mirrored some of EOG’s comments about the Bossier play. EnCana is no newcomer; it has been scooping up big chucks of the Bossier acreage for several years and now is one of the leading leaseholders across the region (see Daily GPI, Nov. 6, 2007; July 31, 2006).

In the Haynesville/Bossier play there is “the potential for additional upside across a large portion of our land position,” CEO Randy Eresman said during a conference call. “In the mid-Bossier zone we’ve recently completed two wells that are showing excellent results. One of the wells located in the Red River Parish [LA] flowed about 19 MMcf/d at more than 8,500 psi flowing case and pressure during an initial test.”

Combined with its Haynesville acreage, Eresman said the Bossier “has the potential to become the leading resource play for EnCana. Our expected growth in 2010 will be driven by our U.S. division, and Haynesville will be a key driver of that growth.”

Jeff Wojahn, who helms EnCana’s U.S. operations, noted that the company has 430,000 net acres across the two plays and considers the Bossier play as part of its Haynesville operations.

“We’re really talking about attacking the areas where we have originally acquired our land in what we think is the core of the Haynesville trend, and we’re really attacking that area.”

“There’s a tremendous amount of opportunity,” Wojahn told an analyst “We haven’t focused a lot as an industry and a company on the mid-Bossier potential, but the impact to EnCana’s resource potential is very significant.

“Obviously, you’ve heard a lot about the Haynesville by itself is producing over 2 Bcf/d. EnCana for its part is currently producing 200 MMcf/d just from the Haynesville and just on wells that we’re drilling on a per-section basis. Nonetheless, they are still growing.

“The mid-Bossier has the capability of rivaling our Haynesville position…and certainly the results that we are getting, the more customized completion programs associated with mid-Bossier, are giving us new well results that are…that rival the Haynesville itself. So just in that sense we can have thousands of wells that we potentially could drill in that 165,000 acres.”

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