SCOOP-y Doo, We’ve Got a Mystery to Solve in Oklahoma

A number of independent crude producers are testing the potential of the South Central Oklahoma Oil Province—SCOOP, for short—and liking what they see. It is too early to know if SCOOP, a legacy shale play in the southern reaches of the Woodford Shale, will be the next big thing in US crude production. But SCOOP seems to have a lot going for it geology-wise and, as an added bonus, the play is located near several pipelines and the Cushing, OK oil pipeline and storage hub. Today we take a look at SCOOP, its potential for crude production, and the E&P companies chasing the dream.

As its name suggests, SCOOP, a southern extension of the Woodford Shale’s Cana play, encompasses 3,300 square miles of south-central Oklahoma; most of the interest is within four counties: Stephens, Grady, Garvin and Carter. To date, shale plays in Oklahoma as a whole have yielded mostly natural gas, but production of oil and condensates has been rising, in part because of increasing exploration and production (E&P) activity in wet gas and oil fairways in SCOOP. The mystery that a handful of E&P companies are trying to solve is whether their initial, largely positive results in SCOOP are fortunate flukes or a sign that they are really onto something.

The oil-rich rock in SCOOP (formed during the Devonian age, about 360 million years ago, just like the Bakken) is within bands up to 400 feet thick at depths of 8,000 to 16,000 feet. The total organic carbon by weight (TOC) is 6 to 15% (the Bakken is 5 to 20%, and the Eagle Ford 3 to 7%); the porosity of 5 to 8% is in line with both the Bakken and the Eagle Ford; and the original oil in place (OOIP), according to SCOOP pioneer Continental Resources, is 45 to 70 MMb/section (a “section” is 640 acres). The Bakken’s OOIP is 60 to 70 MMb/section, and the Eagle Ford’s is less than 50. (SCOOP’s geographic reach is only one-quarter that of the Bakken’s 13,000 square miles, though, and two-thirds that of the Eagle Ford’s 5,000 square miles.). The considerable depth of the play’s oil-rich layer makes for relatively costly wells: $9 million, on average, for a standard one-mile lateral--again, according to Continental, whose aim is to reduce the cost of that basis well to $8.7 million by the end of this year. 

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There are four E&P companies with extensive leaseholds in SCOOP and exploration activity underway there: Continental Resources, Marathon Oil, Newfield Exploration, and Eagle Rock Energy Partners. Continental, a leading crude producer in the Bakken (it has 1.2 million net acres leased there, and produced 97.5 MBOE/d in the first quarter of 2014), is out front in SCOOP as well. It started exploration in SCOOP in 2012, and now has a working interest in more than 185 wells across its 425,000 net acres of leasehold in the play (according to a May presentation by the company; see Figure #1). 

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