Anadarko sees horizontal drilling potential in liquids-rich Wattenberg field
By PRAMOD KULKARNI
DENVER – Activity in the Bakken and Eagle Ford is booming as operators apply shale horizontal drilling and multi-stage fracturing techniques to produce the lucrative oil and natural gas liquids. Production in the Bakken is now at gross production of 400,000 bopd. The Eagle Ford is approaching 300,000 bopd through accelerated drilling and production activity since 2010. It is now time to add the Wattenberg field to the list of US liquids-rich shale plays, according to a presentation made by John Ford, Anadarko’s General Manager for the Wattenberg field.
The Wattenberg field is located in the front range of the D-J basin, which stretches across Colorado and parts of southern Wyoming. The current interest is in the Niobrara, which in fact is a carbonate play like the Austin Chalk. Within this area is the Wattenberg field, which is located north of Denver and has the town of Greely at its center. More than 50 large and small operators are working in the field, including Anadarko and Noble Energy. There are 15,000 vertical wells in the field. A typical well produces only about 10 bopd. The Wattenberg has stacked play opportunities so that the operators can drill the Sussex, Codell and Lincoln formations.
Ford said it is horizontal drilling that has changed the outlook for the Wattenberg field. “In 2009, EOG drilled the prolific Jake well. Noble drilled the Gemini well in 2010 with a record 4 MMcfd of production. Anadarko is currently drilling the Dolph horizontal well with 1,100 bopd and 2.5 MMcfd of initial production.”
Ford said operators in the Wattenberg field must contend with several issues that are quite different from the Bakken and the Eagle Ford. “Operators here must weave between existing 15,000 vertical wells. Secondly, the population is much denser. There are about 700,000 people in the region and the area is an important recreational area. So it is important for us to communicate early and often with the local community and both state and local officials. It is also important to reduce traffic in the area and minimize water usage through recycling.”