Bakken Update: Estimated Ultimate Recoveries In The Permian Part 1

by: Michael Filloon

The Permian may be the most intricate basin in the United States with respect to geology. Shale thickness is much greater than in the Bakken and Eagle Ford. This allows for vertical drilling techniques. It requires lower spec drilling rigs and reduces overall costs. The Delaware Basin has multiple stacked pay zones, most are horizontal, and different from those in the Midland. Recoveries have been lower than other liquids plays, but this is changing as companies continue to increase lateral lengths and the number of stages. This increases costs, but is improving recoveries. We are beginning to see larger oil cuts in these areas, as the Permian is not just a combo play. This will increase economics as the price NGLs have decreased.

This geology changes quickly from one basin to the next. This changes target zones, and how it is drilled and completed. The picture above shows the different basins in the Permian. The Permian offers one of the most diverse areas as it is a stacked play offering very good results at different depths. The picture below is a good representation of where each shale play is located. The Delaware Basin is prospective the Bone Spring, Wolfbone and Wolfcamp. The Midland Basin is also prospective the Wolfcamp, but includes the vertical Wolfberry and horizontal Cline shale. Although not shown on the map, the Northwest Shelf of the Central Basin Platform (just north of the Delaware Basin) is prospective the Yeso.

The Midland Basin breaks down into several horizontal and vertical targets. The Wolfberry is located in the Midland Basin. It consists of the Spraberry and Wolfcamp formations. The Wolfberry is very thick, making it a good vertical target. This is usually done with 8 to 12 frac stages. Above the Spraberry shale is the Leonard, also known as the Avalon in the Delaware Basin. The Wolfcamp is part of the Wolfberry formation, but can also be considered as its own horizontal target. The Wolfcamp is 42% oil, 30% NGL, and 28% gas and is a combo play. It covers an estimated one million acres and is found at depths of 7,000 to 10,500 feet. The Cline shale is below the Wolfcamp and is another horizontal target. Estimates have it producing EURs of 340 MBoe using a ten stage 3000 foot lateral. This has an average cost of $4.3 million. 15 stage 4,000 foot laterals increase EURs to 420 MBoe (60% oil), but increase well costs to $7.7 million. There are six vertical targets below the Cline, all of which may be economic.

Midland Basin Source Rock
Formation Target

Upper Spraberry

Lower Spraberry Vertical
Dean Vertical
Upper Wolfcamp Horizontal
Middle Wolfcamp Horizontal
Lower Wolfcamp Vertical
Lower Cline Shale Horizontal
Stawn Vertical
Atoka Vertical/Horizontal
Barnett Vertical/Horizontal
Woodford Vertical
Devonian Vertical
Fusselman Vertical

The Delaware Basin does not have the vertical targets of Midland. It shares the Wolfcamp with the Midland Basin, but also has the Avalon shale. The Bone Spring consists of three layers, all separate pay zones. Each has a thickness of 150 to 350 feet. It covers 4,390 square miles. EOG Resources (NYSE:EOG) estimates a resource cut of 41% oil, 31% NGL, and 28% gas. It is found at depths of 6,000 to 9,800 feet. The Wolfcamp is located below the Bone Spring, and is referred to as the Wolfbone when combined.

Delaware Basin Source Rock
Formation Target
Avalon Horizontal
1st Bone Spring Horizontal
2nd Bone Spring Horizontal
3rd Bone Spring Horizontal
Wolfcamp Horizontal

Apache (NYSE:APA) has produced completions over a large number of zones. It is a leader in Permian acreage. Below is a list of top operator acreage.

  1. Apache: 3.5 million acres
  2. Occidental (NYSE:OXY): 3 million acres
  3. Conoco Phillips (NYSE:COP): 1.1 million acres
  4. Chevron (NYSE:CVX): 1.02 million acres
  5. Devon (NYSE:DVN): 1 million acres
  6. Pioneer Natural Resources (NYSE:PXD): 900,000 acres

Some of Apache's recent Midland Basin well results and EURs are listed below:

Well Source Rock EUR (MBoe)
Weber 47 #8 Wolfberry 172
Jeffs #4 Wolfberry 202
SRH #1413 Wolfberry 125
Nichols #2206 Fusselman 186
Keathley 46 #12 Fusselman 262
Ballenger #4103 Fusselman 180
ED Books 1B #11 Wolfcamp/Strawn 147
SAU 45 #4C Spraberry/Dean 221

Apache's vertical Midland Basin wells include the formations in the above table. Apache drilling and completion costs are approximately $2 million. EURs range from 125 to 202 MBoe. Resource garnered is 82% liquids. Vertical Spraberry well economics produce EURs of 127 MBoe. Drilling and completion costs are $1.4 million. These wells are 68% liquids. Apache's Cline shale results are listed below.

Well EUR Lateral Stages
Mack 8-2H 372 4400 10
Squire 9-2H 389 4600 12
Bell 18-1H 356 3800 10
Barracuda 45 #2H 528 3800 11
Mac 6-Carter 43 380 6705 12
Marlin 47 2H 420 4255 12

Drilling and completion costs of 7.6 million are expected in the Cline. EURs of 423 MBoe are expected with 87% liquids production. Below is a list of Apache's Upper Wolfcamp results.

Well EUR Lateral Stages
Scott Sugg #1H 682 7322 23
Bennie #1H 553 6486 19
Bennie #2H 794 9300 30
Clinch #2H 724 8939 31
Clinch #6H 585 9163 40
Clinch #4H 600 9144 31
Sugg #7H 696 7567 27
Clinch #3H 596 8986 39
Bennie #3H 660 8774 37
Bennie 4342 M-9H 850 9094 33

Wolfcamp shale EURs are 598 MBoe and produce 91% liquids. Apache's results have significantly outperformed. Increased lateral length and stages are producing significantly better recoveries.

In summary, Apache is a Permian leader. It has produced the widest range of results from several different pay zones. It is ahead of the competition, and has provided a good baseline of results to compare with in the industry. Its Wolfcamp wells have improved and I would guess the Cline will do the same. In part 2, I will cover Apache's Central Basin Platform and the areas it is working. I will also compare how its competition is doing as this play begins to improve production due to better drilling and completion techniques.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Additional disclosure: This is not a buy recommendation. The projections or other information regarding the likelihood of various investment outcomes are hypothetical in nature, are not guaranteed for accuracy or completeness, do not reflect actual investment results, do not take in consideration commissions, margin interest and other costs, and are not guarantees of future results. All investments involve risk, losses may exceed the principal invested, and the past performance of a security, industry, sector, market, or financial product does not guarantee future results or returns. For more articles like this check out my website at Michael Filloon is a Director at Fracwater Solutions L.L.C. We engage in industrial water solutions for oil and gas companies in North Dakota. This includes constructing water depots, pipelines, and disposal wells. We also provide contracting services for al types of construction at well sites. Other services include soil remediation. Please contact me via email if you are interested in working with us. For other, more of my articles check out