FARMINGTON, N.M. December 20, 2012 – An oil-and-gas conference scheduled for March 18 and 19, 2013, will feature a series of announcements about new drilling for shale oil in the Four Corners Region known as the Mancos Shale Formation.
“This is the Renaissance of the San Juan Basin,” said conference organizer Dr. Daniel Fine, senior energy analyst with the New Mexico Center for Energy Policy. “We are seeing a revolution on the part of American technology in natural gas and shale oil recovery in shale formations.”
The conference is titled, “San Juan Basin Energy Conference.” The 2013 theme is “Recognition of the Mancos Shale as the next chapter in the American revolution of unconventional natural gas and oil technology leading to national energy independence in 2020.” Chevron, BP America, Continental Resources, PNM and the U.S. Department of Energy are expected to make presentations at the conference.
In the past five years, U.S. oil and gas developers have coupled the new technology of horizontal drilling with the age-old practice of hydraulic fracturing – or fracking – to tap into previously locked-in unconventional shale gas and liquids, Fine said.
Drilling and exploration companies will present initial findings from recent activity in the Mancos Shale, which is estimated to contain 60 billion barrels of oil, with 6 billion barrels expected to be recovered, Fine said.
“There are so many companies active in the region,” said Randy Pacheco, Dean of the School of Energy at San Juan College. “This conference is important for the Mancos Shale and U.S. development because we’re bringing together many industry experts.”
EnCana, a Canadian company, has partnered with a local independent producer – Dugan Production of Farmington – to drill several test wells into the Mancos Shale and continues to plan additional test wells. While EnCana has taken the lead in initial exploration, other producers in the oil-and-gas industry have stakes in the region. Companies active in the region include ConocoPhillips, BP America, Williams and Hunt Oil of Texas.
“There’s a great deal of interest from investment groups, analysts and banks,” Fine said. “They will queue up to get information. We know companies are drilling because they have to do permitting, but what they’re finding and producing is a work in progress. This conference is their forum to provide initial data.”
Fine said industry representatives will present their results during the conference, which will be Monday and Tuesday, March 18 and 19, 2013, in Farmington.
“This conference highlights the changes in the San Juan Basin – moving from natural gas production to oil,” said Dr. James Henderson, San Juan County Commissioner. “Additionally, The San Juan Basin has seen natural gas production for 50 years and the region could see oil and gas production for another 50 years.”
Fine said, “This is a major change and promises to be a boom in the San Juan Basin and the surrounding economy. Fracturing or stimulation is a method of extracting oil and gas that has been used since the 1960s. Horizontal drilling has only been deployed in the San Juan Basin since 2010. The combination of the two methods has opened up shale reservoirs from Pennsylvania to North Dakota to New Mexico.”
“The oil window in the Mancos Shale has been unrecoverable until now because it’s a shale formation and it’s tight,” Fine said. “Vertical wells in the San Juan Basin couldn’t penetrate the shale economically.”
At the price of $70 per barrel (which is lower than the current price), Fine said the Mancos Shale oil reserve would be valued at more than $400 billion.
Additional presentations and panel topics include: The development of U.S. shale oil and gas; the potential for natural gas as an additional fuel source for electricity generation; technology and education – issues facing technical training for shale development and production; and geology research and findings about the Mancos Shale. Finally, the regulation panel and presentation, which Fine said may be contentious, will include discussion about the conflict over shale gas exploration and the nature of the opposition.
Panel experts will include representatives of the companies mentioned above, plus the New Mexico Bureau of Geology, the Research Partnership to Secure Energy for America, American Counties for Energy Independence and the U.S. Department of Energy. The main sponsors of the conference are New Mexico Tech, the School of Energy at San Juan College, the Farmington Chamber of Commerce and San Juan County. For more information, visit www.sanjuanbasinenergy.org.
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By Thomas Guengerich/New Mexico Tech