Cunningham Energy Strikes More Oil in WV

Cunningham Energy is a small oil driller based in West Virginia. In 2015, Cunningham struck oil in the Big Injun sandstone formation in Clay County, WV (see Cunningham Strikes Oil in West Virginia‚Äôs Big Injun Territory). In 2016, Cunningham announced they would target another shallow formation, the Weir Sand formation, a few layers below the Big Injun (same group of rocks called the Mississippian system), once again looking for oil (see Cunningham Using Horizontal Drilling to Target Weir Sand in WV). Last week Cunningham provided an update to say they’ve hit a milestone by producing 20,000 barrels of oil production from two new shallow horizontal oil wells located in Clay County, once again targeting the Big Injun. They also said they will soon begin to drill those previously mentioned Weir wells in Kanawha County. Normally we don’t cover news from conventional drillers, but Cunningham is interesting for a few reasons. While the rock layers Cunningham targets are layers typically targeted by conventional oil drillers, the lines are beginning to become blurred between conventional and unconventional. Cunninghamton targets shallow layers using horizontal drilling, and they drill increasingly longer laterals. Yet they don’t frack their wells. What is the definition of conventional vs. unconventional drilling? In brief, unconventional is the marriage of both horizontal drilling AND fracking. If you don’t have both, you don’t have what we consider an unconventional well. Yet conventional wells, like those drilled by Cunningham, increasingly have characteristics of unconventional wells, like long horizontal laterals (used to be vertical-only). Cunningham, in their promotional material, talks about one day drilling shale wells. Looks like they’re getting practiced up and ready…

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