Marcellus Gas in Southern WV? Wildcat Driller Says Yes

There is new interest in the Marcellus Shale in southern West Virginia, a place most energy companies have written off as being uneconomical for Marcellus gas, and one company is planning to roll the dice by drilling half a dozen exploratory wells, at $5 million per well, to prove it.

A Texas-based company is placing a bet that conventional wisdom — that the Marcellus shale gas field is uneconomical in southern West Virginia — is incorrect.

In fact, according to Deep Earth Energy, a Fayetteville-based company, more than 100,000 acres in Raleigh County, more than a quarter of the county’s acreage, is either leased or in negotiation to be leased for Marcellus shale gas drilling.

Timothy "T.J." Boley, managing member of Deep Earth, said his client, New River Resources, contacted his brokerage company to provide professional land services in Raleigh County. New River, Boley said, is interested in "wildcatting," a drilling industry term describing companies that look for oil and gas where others don’t believe it is located.

"We were approached by New River Resources … to work on a project to develop the Marcellus shale here in southern West Virginia," Boley said. "That was a bit of a surprise, because conventional wisdom says that we’re out of the pay zone when you get this far south. My client feels differently about that and has spent quite a bit of money here in Raleigh County and plans to spend more to develop Marcellus shale wells here." Boley said he feels his client

has information that the general public does not that may indicate the presence of profitable levels of natural gas. Generally, southern West Virginia’s shale resources have been considered too thin to produce an economical flow of natural gas.

"The shale is underneath Raleigh County, West Virginia," Boley said. "The issue is the thickness, the maturity of the shale, the porosity. … Until you turn the bit horizontal, you fracture it, you complete it, you have a well, until then, you really don’t know what the payoff is going to be."

According to Boley, New River Resources game plan is to drill some test wells and prove that there’s a good flow of Marcellus gas in Raleigh County, and then attract a larger partner to foot the bill for expanded drilling.

*Beckley The Register-Herald (Aug 13, 2011) Is shale boom about to hit Raleigh County?