Pioneer Natural Resources Using White Sand in Completions

Pioneer’s Eagle Ford Shale completion costs are lowered by as much $700,000 when the company uses white sand instead of ceramic proppant. That’s an almost 10% savings on wells that costs $7-8 million. The company is testing white sand on 30% of its wells in 2011 and 2012. It will take some time to truly determine is white sand can hold up under the pressure of the Eagle Ford Shale.

Pioneer also lowered its drilled but uncompleted well inventory during the second quarter. The company went from 23 wells to just 11 as central gas processing facilities were brought online.

Okay, turning to Eagle Ford Shale, that’s Slide 14. The Eagle Ford shale assets are hitting their stride. As planned, we’re running 12 rigs. The average lateral length of the wells is now up to about 5,500 feet. The economics are quite outstanding as we’ve always discussed, owing to the rich condensate and generally liquid-rich nature of these wells. We’re seeing very good performance in Dewitt County, offsetting Black Hawk. One thing we’re doing, as we discussed in the last call, is to push the envelope with regard to the use of white sand as a proppant. We have already stimulated 10 wells, and the performance of the wells looked very good and very similar to the direct offset wells where we used ceramics for the proppant. So the idea this year is about 30% of our wells this year, we’ll be using white sand, and that’s the number also planned for next year, 2012, about 30% of the wells.

And importantly, that reduces the cost of the wells, something like $700,000 per well, which is very significant, if you look at the future drilling campaign. Infrastructure build-out continues. We now have 6 of our central gas processing facilities completed. A seventh will be completed by the end of this quarter and eight in the next quarter. So we are really ahead of the game when it comes to build-out of infrastructure.

And the result as you see on Slide 15 is the ability to put more wells on production. We’ve met our goal in the second quarter of putting wells on production in the Eagle Ford. We put 18 wells on production. That’s reflecting the frac bank being significantly reduced as well. The frac banks starting the second quarter was 22 or 23 wells, now it is 11 at the end of the second quarter, which is basically our minimum run rate, which is one — basically one well per rig. But you can see, as we bring the 2 new CGPs online this quarter, we have a substantial ability to add a lot more wells to production. And in addition to that, we’ll see a similar ability to do that as we get into the fourth quarter. So this area is going to be ramping up dramatically as shown on Slide 16, with the crude oil production well count increasing, third quarter should see a significant increase as shown on the slide, up to 14,000 to 17,000 BOE per day.

You can see we’re going to 14 rigs next year. Those 14 rigs are all under contract. And then 16 rigs and 19 rigs looking forward.

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Kenneth E. DuBose

Kenneth E. DuBose

Kenneth DuBose is the past President of Cheyenne Minerals Inc., an independent oil and gas operator. He began his energy industry career with ARCO Oil & Gas. Mr. DuBose then directed development of natural gas storage projects with Tejas Power Corp. He was a founding member of U.S. Minerals, (acquired by Torch Energy in 1999) a provider of internet based education for America’s mineral owners. Mr. DuBose holds a BS in Petroleum Engineering from Mississippi State University. He has served on various industry steering committees, non-profit boards, and is an active member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers, the National Association of Royalty Owners, the American Association of Professional Landmen, as well as being a Registered Investment Advisor. He writes on topics of oil and gas investing, wealth management and personal finance, having appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger’s, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, Houston Business Journal, Financial Advisor and various radio and TV outlets.