Is the Wolfberry the next Eagle Ford?

Shale is hot. People are interested; production and drilling are up. I attended the Unconventional Gas show in Fort Worth a couple of weeks ago, and people are certainly interested -- in US shale, as well as shale potential in Europe and China and beyond.

The first to really take off were Haynesville and Marcellus. Then more dry-gas shales came on the scene. Now, liquids-rich or oil-laden formations, such as Eagle Ford and Bakken, are garnering all the attention of both investors and producers. 

Billions of dollars have been spent on acquiring acreage and interest, as well as forming JVs. The number of land rigs has picked up across the nation, spurred by -- you guessed it -- shale exploration and developments. Additionally, pipeline, refinery and gas processing facility construction is on the rise.

Not just oil and natural gas are flowing, money is too.

Enter the Wolfberry and Wolfcamp plays.

Now, as an oil and gas writer, my ears perk when any shale or unconventional play is mentioned. In addition, this particular play is located in my father's home county -- I can't help but notice that.

I first read about it when El Paso Corp. revealed in late September that it was adding more than 120,000 acres in West Texas to its leasehold. I know Crockett County, and it is natural gas country, but this release stated that it was in the emerging Wolfcamp oil shale play.

What? How had I never heard about this? I did a little back-digging on the PennEnergy site, and lo and behold: there have been a couple of smaller stories about the Wolfcamp -- and it's supposed to be liquids- and/or oil-rich.

Then, I noticed a couple more stories about the Wolfberry trend. LINN Energy spent $352.2 million acquiring natural gas acreage in the Wolfberry trend, with notes of oil.

My curiosity is piqued, and I've been asking everyone who will listen in the oil patch whether or not they know anything about it. What's the word?

Enter a very nice oil patch pal I fortuitously sat next to on the plane from Tulsa to Houston. He was investigating the Wolfberry, as well. Imagine that! He had a meeting the next week with someone in West Texas, and he'd share his insight.

Here it is:

Presently, there are about 260 rigs working the Wolfberry formation in West Texas. Not quite shale, Wolfberry is a tight formation that's being drilled vertically. "The same fracturing techniques apply; therefore this formation previously unproductive to drill becomes viable, considering each well produces 200 - 800 BPD Oil and 0.2 to 1.0 MMSCFD rich natural gas, making it very attractive."

Is the Wolfberry the next Eagle Ford? What's the difference between the Wolfberry and the Wolfcamp? I'm searching, asking, begging. Do you know? Please share.


Phaedra Friend Troy is the content director for, an all-energy website that provides oil and gas, power and infrastructure news, analysis, reports and more. Sign up for a free daily enewsletter today.

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