Cunningham Energy Focuses on Shallow Horizontal Oil Wells 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’s 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). Cunningham issued a press release two days ago to announce that its Lions Paw 4-Well Pad, in Clay County, is now producing at a rate of 10,000 plus barrels of oil per month. 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. Correction: They do frack! Cunningham sent us an email to let us know they do use fracking on their shallow, horizontal wells. Is this conventional? Or unconventional? Perhaps we should invent a new word to describe it: biconventional. Drilling with elements of both conventional and unconventional. Here’s the Cunningham announcement that existing wells are pumping oil with impressive numbers. The release also mentions Cunningham’s plans to drill more shallow horizontal wells in both Clay and Kanawha counties this year…
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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’s 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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Cunningham Using Horizontal Drilling to Target Weir Sand in WV

cunningham logoThis story is, for us, fascinating. A small driller based in West Virginia, Cunningham Energy, is zagging while everyone else is zigging. We told you in 2013 that Cunningham planned to drill three “shallow” horizontal wells in Clay County, WV (see The Injuns are Coming! Injun Formation Drilling, that is). Cunningham targeted the Big Injun sandstone formation, looking for oil. They struck oil this past year (see Cunningham Strikes Oil in West Virginia’s Big Injun Territory). Once again Cunningham is targeting a shallow formation, this time the Weir Sand formation, a few layers below the Big Injun (same group of rocks called the Mississippian system), once again looking for oil. Cunningham announced last week they are drilling two new horizontal wells, this time in Kanawha County, WV…
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Cunningham Strikes Oil in West Virginia’s Big Injun Territory

Back in 2013 we warned you that the injuns were coming–the Big Injun sandstone formation in West Virginia (see The Injuns are Coming! Injun Formation Drilling, that is). We told you then that Cunningham Energy of Charleston, WV was about to drill several shallow horizontal wells in the politically incorrectly named Big Injun Formation. We thought Cunningham was drilling for natural gas, but as it turns it, it was oil they were after. And, according to a press release, it’s oil that Cunningham has struck in the Big Injun…
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WV “Landowner” Wins $4.8M in Lawsuit for Failure to Drill

By Andy Leahy

court gavelOn March 3, a federal judge awarded a Tyler County, WV mineral owner $4.8 million in present and future royalties (plus interest) as damages in a dispute involving the operator’s failure to follow through on some unusually generous lease terms. The operator, Cunningham Energy LLC of Charleston, WV, had promised to horizontally drill eight wells to and through the Marcellus Shale formation within three years, but was unable to do so–largely because the leaseholds were far too small to develop as stand-alone units, and the surrounding lands turned out to be already under lease to other drillers…
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The Injuns are Coming! Injun Formation Drilling, that is

Warning - Politically IncorrectSorry, but we can’t avoid using a politically incorrect term in this report: “Injun.” As in the Big Injun Formation, a layer of tightly-packed sandstone that lies above the Marcellus Shale layer in several West Virginia counties. Apparently there’s natural gas in the Big Injun in Clay County, WV, and Cunningham Energy (of Charleston) is going to drill three horizontal/fracked wells to try and get that gas. Fracking the Big Injun has been talked about for a long time (here’s a Society of Petroleum Engineers conference paper that specifically addresses that very topic from 1988!). However, combining horizontal drilling with fracking is relatively new and didn’t happen in the northeast until Range Resources drilled the first Marcellus Shale well in 2004 in western PA.

Until now, we’ve heard of the horizontal drilling/fracking combination being used in the Marcellus, the Utica and the Upper Devonian. Looks like we can now add a fourth formation to that illustrious list: the Big Injun. Good luck to Cunningham Energy as they go Big Injun hunting for natural gas…
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