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  • ShaleTech: Niobrara Shale, hoping complex play becomes next Bakken


    Jim Redden

    The Niobrara tight oil shale play is the oilfield equivalent of the young athlete, who is built up as having world-class potential, only to struggle in meeting the lofty expectations. To be sure, the near-universal euphoria that accompanied high initial flowrates a couple of years ago has been replaced with cautious optimism, as operators work to further their understanding of the complex organic-rich play in the heart of the U.S. Rockies. Nevertheless, despite a comparatively brief, and at times fickle, horizontal exploration and production history, and ever-increasing environmental challenges, the independent, largely home-grown operators dominating the liquids-rich Niobrara continue to maintain reasonably stable drilling programs. In the meantime, geophysical investigations are underway to get a better grasp of the highly variable natural fracturing, to help operators uncover the secrets to increasing the drainage of horizontal and multi-frac wellbores in what was once hyped as the “Bakken-lite.”

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