From time to time, we do interviews with major media outlets... I thought I'd share the latest. KNES 5 in San Antonio did a segment on the Eagle Ford Shale on the 6pm newscast of August 25, 2011. R.T. Dukes and Kenny DuBose of EagleFordShale.com provided the background data for the story by answering a few common questions regarding the Eagle Ford's development. Here's the Q&A below for everyone's benefit.
Is there a reserves estimate for the Eagle Ford?
This is a tricky question and there's not doubt that as an oil & gas play develops, estimates for production and reserves change as quickly as a well is drilled. New information is being gathered constantly in the form of seismic data, drilling data, well production, production history, and the list goes on. If you consider that there was virtually ZERO production from the Eagle Ford formation just a few short years ago, the current estimates will most definitely dwarf the previous.
The USGS has not completed a study on Eagle Ford reserves and they likely won't at any time in the future. We'll have to go off industry estimates and we've heard numbers as high as 20+ billion barrels of liquids (oil, condensate, and NGLs) and 150 Tcf of gas. That's a lot of hydrocarbons!
Will the Eagle Ford be or is it biggest oil field in Texas?
"Biggest" is a tricky word and that question can be asked in terms of reserves, production rate, number of wells, or geographic extent. Also, the Eagle Ford is not technically a "field", but a producing geologic formation. Formations can cover a huge geographic extent and only have good reservoir or source rock properties in certain areas. A play like the Eagle Ford will cover multiple fields.
In terms of production, the Eagle Ford is estimated to produce more than 160,000 barrels of oil and condensate per day as of the end of July. That means the play is already contributing 3% of total U.S. oil production, which was 5.6 mmbopd in May of 2011. Conservative estimates peg Eagle Ford production at 2-3 times that by 2015.
Is the Eagle Ford the largest field in the U.S.?
The last major oil field discovered in the U.S. was Alaska's Prudhoe Bay in 1969 and reserves are estimated at 12-13 billion barrels. If you're counting, that's 42 years ago.
We can consider the Eagle Ford a discovery, but as mentioned above it is more than one field. The Eagle Ford will likely run a tight race with the Bakken Shale. The Bakken (2001 "play opening well") was a few years ahead of the Eagle Ford (2008 "discovery well"). If you consider the potential for gas production, the Eagle Ford is likely much larger, but if you simply consider liquids production it will be a close race. Bakken estimates range from 5-20+ billion barrels and we've seen very similar numbers describing the Eagle Ford.
In South Texas, EOG estimates it has almost 1 billion barrels of reserves across its 600,000 acre position. In short, it's big.
How long will drilling activity last?
That's a loaded question since no one has proved to know what the oil price is going to be tomorrow, but the Eagle Ford has pretty attractive economics and that won't change dramatically, without another "shale gas" sized revolution. We expect the Eagle Ford and the like will be developed for decades to come. When you take into account technological advances, which have historically shown to further extend the lives of known reserves, it could extend further.
How many wells are currently producing?
There are more than 500 producing well reported by the Texas RRC. That includes 200+ oil wells and more than 250 gas wells.