EOG Resources

Crude oil prices have rebounded somewhat in recent weeks (and now are hovering near $50/bbl), but cash-hungry shale-play producers remain laser-focused on high-output “sweet spots” that promise quick, sure-fire economic returns.  What if these same producers could get an added, low-cost boost in output—and much-needed revenue—through enhanced oil recovery (EOR)?  EOR, which involves injecting or “flooding” seemingly past-their-prime oil wells with steam, carbon dioxide (CO2), natural gas or nitrogen to spur further production, has always been associated with conventional, vertical wells; but as we discuss today, there’s a push under way to make EOR work in horizontal wells too.

The potential for the Tuscaloosa Marine Shale (TMS) tight-oil play to become the next big thing in U.S. oil production is attracting exploration and production companies willing to put some money at risk in the hope of big payoffs. The TMS seems to have a lot going for it. The play in central Louisiana and southwestern Mississippi is said to have seven billion barrels of oil in place deep below ground but only a stone’s throw from the pipeline networks, terminals and refineries of the Gulf Coast. But succeeding in TMS requires overcoming the play’s challenging characteristics through nuanced drilling techniques and completion formulas. Today in the second part of our series on TMS we examine what the E&P pioneers have accomplished so far in drilling and production, what they’re learning from their experience, and what it would take to turn TMS’s potential into reality.

Mining, processing and delivering over 30 million metric tonnes (MT) of frac sand proppant to US oil and gas shale drilling sites is a serious business. Speedier drilling, increased lateral length and more fraccing stages are driving demand for the critical proppant that holds open fractures to let hydrocarbons flow to the well. Large companies with efficient distribution logistics and agreements with the railroads dominate the business – helping to bring down completion costs per well. Today we take a closer look at the frac sand business.

The latest crude production estimates from North Dakota show continued growth to a new record of nearly 770 Mb/d in December 2012. The North Dakota Pipeline Authority estimates that 64 percent of that crude was transported to market by rail in December – up from 58 percent in November. Today we continue our survey of North Dakota crude rail loading terminals with an in-depth look at three facilities that between them can load 250 Mb/d of crude.