The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

April 7, 2012

Area is taking advantage of the mighty Mississippi

New technology yielding liquid gold from old formation

By Ruth Ann Replogle, Columnist
Enid News and Eagle

ENID — Oil and natural gas drilling are seeing a strong resurgence in the United States, and, as it always has been, northwest Oklahoma is in the thick of it.

A Mississippi lime formation stretching north and west of Enid and into Kansas is the big play in the area now, according to Mike Terry, president of Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association.

The formation — or play — is large, he said, and the oil it is suspected of containing should bring Enid prosperity for many years to come.

“The Mississippi is very exciting and great news,” Terry said. “There is still a lot of oil in place, it reaches into Kansas.”

He said the combination of new technology and economic conditions have made the time ripe for oil exploration

Oklahoma has been in the forefront of the oil industry for years, and, fortunately for the state, there still is some life left in the old plays.

“The viability of the area has always been an area that’s done well for oil,” Terry said. “That’s what they’re drilling for now.”

The good news is old fields are being revitalized because of new technology, he said. Horizontal drilling and fracturing have been very successful.

“The Mississippi was nearly depleted by vertical drilling, and horizontals are producing a lot more oil now. Oil production in Oklahoma is at its highest level since 1989,” said Cody Bannister of OIPA.

Next to the Mississippi formation, probably the second-busiest oil play in the area is the Cana-Woodford near Watonga. The Woodford shale stretches across most of Oklahoma, Bannister said.

It is a shift from the natural gas industry that fed the state while oil played out in the latter years of the 20th Century, Terry said. Drilling has shifted, and its not economical to  work gas wells now, he said.

“There is an oversupply of natural gas because of the success in Oklahoma and around the country,” Terry said.

That would have meant even worse news for the state if new discovery of new technology has not led an upswing in the oil industry.

Horizontal drilling has been developed to the point of where it is everyday technology for oil exploration companies, which are coming back to certain oil-rich places like Oklahoma to rework what previously was out of reach.

Using horizontal drilling methods, companies now can go through rock formations to reach pockets of oil, which has fed the success of drilling through Mississippi lime formations abundant north and west of Enid.

The lime is very thick and when reached must be drilled horizontally. Terry said he expects drilling to go as much as 5,000 to 10,000 feet horizontally, but in some areas it has gone further.

“It’s been developed and it’s very dependable,” Terry said. “Many companies have expertise now.”

Horizontal drilling is a great thing for Oklahoma, Terry said, because it means the current boom will last for quite a while. He predicts it will open up a number of old oil fields and rejuvenate old production.

“It’s driven first by technology and now by price, as well. As long as those two things are the way they are, we will see a lot of economic boom,” Terry said.

The benefits of increase activity for the state as a whole are greater revenue from production tax and increased employment.