Editor’s note: This is one in an occasional series of articles examining the state of major U.S. shale plays at the end of 2022.
After reaching record-high production in 2021, the Haynesville Shale seemed to have a quiet 2022, with a smattering of deal activity and attention seemingly focused more on LNG exports than production.
But indications are that the third-largest producing gas shale in the U.S. is geared up for a robust 2023 if commodity prices hold.
Located in northwestern Louisiana and sprawling into eastern Texas, the Haynesville Shale play was thrust into the spotlight in March 2008. Petrohawk Energy Corp. and Chesapeake Energy Corp. both announced lease acreages in Louisiana, sparking a flood of interest to the region.
“The Barnett remains No. 1 in Chesapeake’s portfolio, but the Haynesville Shale could be even bigger someday,” then-CEO and chairman of Chesapeake, the late Aubrey McClendon, said at IPAA’s 2008 Oil & Gas Investment Symposium in New York.
Although some remained skeptical of the shale’s potential, the approximately 9,000-sq-mile formation has proven itself worthy of the praise it received at its inception.
Analysts from J.P. Morgan found in its September “JPM Natural Gas Reservoir” report a 54% increase in Haynesville rig activity from the 46 average count in 2021 to 71 in the first half of 2022. In addition, they reported the increase in Haynesville activity as “one of the key factors that is supporting the supply imbalance in our 2023 natural gas supply-demand work.
“Recent gas pipeline scrapes are running ahead of expectations, reaching record highs of ~99.3 Bcf/d in September, with MTD gas production estimated at 98.7 Bcf/d, which compares to the August average of 97.7 Bcf/d and the September 2021 average of 92.7 Bcf/d,” the analysts stated.
Top basin performers Chesapeake Energy, Southwestern Energy, Comstock Resources, Aethon Energy and Rockcliff Energy II produced a combined total of 1.53 MMboe/d, 83 bbl/d of oil and 9.2 Bcf/d of gas in the first half of 2022, according to data from advisory firm Enverus.
One of the first operators to enter the basin, Chesapeake was the Haynesville’s largest producer in the first half. Enverus data showed that of the company’s 1.23 MMboe/d produced in the half, 365,766 boe/d came from its Haynesville operations, with 2.19 Bcf/d of the 6.98 Bcf/d total produced coming from the Haynesville as well.
Although it produced 89,862 bbl/d of oil in the first half of the year, none of Chesapeake’s oil production came from the Haynesville, according to the data.
The latter half of the year was dedicated to focusing on Chesapeake’s midstream capacity, the company shared on its third-quarter 2022 earnings call, which includes developing a new pipeline project with an associated carbon capture and sequestration program.
“In the Haynesville, we’ve made significant strides with midstream capacity,” CEO Nick Dell’Osso said on the earnings call. “We've increased our gathering and treating capacity by 25% for this year and up to 60% in out years.”
“We’ve also committed 700 MMcf/d to a new pipeline to be built by momentum from the heart of the Haynesville play down to [Gilles],” he continued.
At Southwestern, the company’s “strategic intent is to generate resilient free cash flow from responsible natural gas development,” has enabled it to establish a presence within the two largest natural gas basins in the U.S. and become the largest gas producer in the Haynesville shale.
“Our well-timed Haynesville acquisition [Indigo Natural Resources, GEP Haynesville] positioned us as the largest Haynesville producer, giving us scaled production and reserves near the LNG corridor and other growing gas demand centers along the Gulf Coast,” president and CEO Bill Way said in Southwestern’s third-quarter 2022 earnings call.
The company reported 334,716 boe/d in first half 2022 production from the Haynesville, comparable to the total 887,668 boe/d produced by the company across all its assets, according to Enverus data. In the basin, it also produced 2 Bcf/d of its total reported 5.19 Bcf/d across the combined Haynesville and Appalachian assets.
Comstock has assets spanning throughout northern Louisiana and eastern Texas, making it the third most productive Haynesville operator with eight total rigs. The company produced a total of 314,483 boe/d, 28 bbl/d of oil and 1.88Bcf/d of gas in the Haynesville in the first half of 2022.
Rig activity remained strong through Dec. 16, with the Haynesville running 72 rigs, according to the Baker Hughes rig count.
During the company’s third-quarter 2022 earnings call, chairman and CEO Jay Allison shared that Comstock had highest quarterly results ever achieved in its history thanks to the increased sale of shale natural gas. He added that a new well in Robertson County in the western region that contributed to the company’s success and that the company also drilled a second well.
“We’ve also drilled our second well in this region, which is near the Circle M called the KC Block [ph], which was successfully drilled and completed that is expected to be turned to sales this month,” Allison said.
As the largest private producer in the Haynesville, Aethon produced 313,492 boe/d of its total 330,601 boe/d from the basin. Additionally, 19 bbl/d of its total 402 bbl/d of oil production and 1.88Bcf/d of its total 1.98Bcf/d of natural gas production came from the Haynesville.
The second private company to emerge as a Haynesville top player, Rockcliff production totaled 205,997 boe/d in the Haynesville in the first half of the year, according to Enverus. 36 bbl/d of its 347 bbl/d total oil production in the half came from the East Texas basin, as did 1.24 Bcf/d of its 1. 32 Bcf/d total natural gas production.
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