Industry touts major Mancos Shale play Estimates point to 6B barrels of recoverable oil

By Emery Cowan Durango Herald staff writer

FARMINGTON – The San Juan Basin could be headed toward a renaissance in natural-gas and oil drilling if rosy expectations touted by industry officials at Monday’s San Juan Basin Energy Conference hold true.

“In the southern part of the basin, the Mancos play has the potential to revitalize declining San Juan Basin oil production and also has a tremendous amount of future gas production in the northern part of the basin,” said Ron Broadhead, a principal petroleum geologist with the New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources.

The conference, which drew about 500 attendees from across the nation to San Juan College, was the first to have a dedicated focus on the Mancos Shale, which stretches across the northwestern part of New Mexico and into southwestern Colorado.

After years of declining production in the San Juan Basin, companies are eyeing the shale play for both natural-gas and oil potential because of advances in hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling technologies that have helped operators unlock shale gas and oil across the nation.

“It’s reasonable that the Mancos Shale could be a really, really good shale play in the San Juan Basin,” said Darryl Williams, the vice president of subsurface for BP North America Gas Exploration and Production Co.

Other presenters were more direct.

“I’m bullish on the Mancos, we’ve already seen a number of wells drilled that are economic,” said T. Greg Merrion, president of Merrion Oil and Gas. “I’m looking forward to this next boom.”

With natural-gas prices hanging around $4 per thousand cubic feet, many conference speakers focused on the oil-producing window of the shale play located in the southern San Juan Basin.

The play has been estimated to contain up to 60 billion barrels of oil, about 10 percent of which is expected to be recoverable, according to estimates by Encana and Daniel Fine, a senior energy analyst with the New Mexico Center for Energy Policy.

The possibility of a resurgence had some speakers proclaiming the beginning of a new era of economic prosperity for northwest New Mexico.

“These are happy times again,” former U.S. Senator Pete Domenici said. For more of the article go to ---> http://durangoherald.com/article/20130318/NEWS01/130319558/0/News01...

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