Chesapeake, Laurel Mountain, BHGE Discuss Completions In Appalachia

PITTSBURGH—In the natural gas-rich Appalachian Basin, where companies are drilling laterals of more than 18,000 ft, proppant volumes are high and thoughts are constantly on economics, focus remains on perfecting completion techniques to get the most from each well.

“We push the limits of longer laterals but as we all know that comes with a risk—risks while drilling, running casing,” said Matt Weinreich, senior vice president for Laurel Mountain Energy, a Pittsburgh-based independent focused on the Marcellus, Devonian and Utica formations in Western Pennsylvania. “That risk is something that we need to factor into the economics. … The bang for our buck is higher proppant loading, and we have pushed the limits successfully in our initial ventures.”

Weinreich was part of a panel on completions during Hart Energy’s DUG East conference and exhibition in late June. Completions techniques and trends have been holding the attention of the industry as lateral lengths grow and techniques become more complex, with each operator tailoring their methods based on geology while keeping an eye on their neighbors. Methods used so far helped to push gas production to more than an estimated 28.5 billion cubic feet per day in June with further growth expected in July, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s latest drilling productivity report.

Longer laterals, landing changes and more sand have resulted in more stimulated rock.

For example, Chesapeake Energy Corp. (NYSE: CHK) recently made changes to its completion methods that resulted in about a 65% increase in 30-day average daily production rates for the first six wells in its 2018 Utica Shale drilling program in Ohio, the company said in May during its first-quarter 2018 earnings release.