Profitability of shale gas drilling: A case study of the Fayetteville shale play

Svetlana Ikonnikova, Gürcan Gülen, John Browning, Scott W. Tinker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations

Abstract

Discussion on shale gas production sustainability raises the question of shale gas well profitability. The study presents a well economics model incorporating key geologic and production features of shale gas. The model is used to demonstrate analytically how profitability of a well may change depending on completion and local geology. We show how wells with the same expected production may have different profitability and, vice versa, how wells with different production profiles may appear to be equally attractive. These conclusions are demonstrated with the empirical analysis based on historical data for almost 4000 horizontal wells in the Fayetteville Shale Play, North Central Arkansas. We look at six productivity tiers across the play accounting for drilling cost variability related to the dramatic depth change (from <1500-ft to over 8000-ft) in the natural gas producing formation. The subdivision of the play into productivity tiers and depth zones accounts for intra-tier profitability variation and helps to explain historical drilling patterns and to predict future development patterns in the field as demonstrated for 2012 by Gülen et al.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)382-393
Number of pages12
JournalEnergy
Volume81
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2015
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Cash flow analysis
  • Investment attractiveness
  • Productivity
  • Shale gas

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