Range is proud to have pioneered the Marcellus shale (play) a decade ago.”

Several individuals who attended Hart Energy's recent DUG East 2014 conference in Pittsburgh have asked about remarks Magnum Hunter Resources Corp. chairman and chief executive officer Gary Evans made that a Magnum subsidiary made the first Marcellus well—in 2004—rather than Range Resources Corp.

“A company I’m not going to name, but their name rhymes with mange, claims that their Renz 1 (in 2004) in…Pennsylvania, was the first slickwater frac in the entire Marcellus that kicked off this boom that we’re all here talking about. Well, that’s simply not true,” Evans said.

“In 2003, Triad Hunter (LLC), a wholly owned subsidiary of Magnum Hunter, plugged back a non-economic Clinton-Medina sandstone well over the Marcellus shale. This well was located in…Noble County, Ohio. The name of that well is the Addis 2A. The well was perforated from 4,006 feet to 4,080 feet on Nov. 14, 2003, and, on April 30, 2004, BJ Services (Co., now a part of Baker Hughes Inc.) performed a slickwater frac, using 3,290 barrels (i.e., roughly 138,000 gallons) of treated freshwater and 73,000 pounds of 20/40 sand. Initial shut-in pressure was 1,550 psi.

“The well IPed a whopping 100,000 cubic feet a day,” he quipped, “but this was the very first Marcellus well in the whole Marcellus play. We found this out after digging through our records (after) we bought Triad, a 23-year-old company, that its well in Noble County was the first Marcellus well and not (Range’s well) in Pennsylvania.”

Rocky Roberts, senior vice president, Appalachian operations, for Triad Hunter LLC, says Triad’s Addis 2A was commercial. Triad went on to make another vertical, Marcellus well in Pleasants County, West Virginia, in the summer of 2004. Roberts was with the company at the time.

He adds, however, “I think it is fair to (give) credit to Range for the first horizontal completions.”

Range Resources completed its vertical Renz 1 well in the Marcellus in western Pennsylvania in October 2004, using the sand-light, gel-light, frac recipe that had been shown, beginning in the late 1990s, to be successful in completing Barnett-shale wells. In this, which is known as the "light-sand frac," mostly water and a small amount of sand and gel—rather than large amounts that are used in “massive hydraulic fracs”—are used to improve permeability.

(Editor’s note: What is italicized was added to this blogpost on July 20, 2014.)

Range responds, “The Ohio regulatory agency does not recognize the well as being in the Marcellus.”

Range’s Renz 1 IPed some 800,000 cubic feet per day. It proceeded to drill several, additional, vertical Marcellus wells. Its first three horizontal attempts—in the spring of 2007—had IPs ranging from 20,000 to 600,000 cubic feet a day. Each was uneconomic due to the higher cost of horizontal—versus vertical—wells.

Upon importing a rig and frac equipment and crews from outside Appalachia, Range landed a fourth horizontal, Gulla 9, in the uppermost section of the Marcellus in August 2007. The well IPed 3.2 million cubic feet a day. The next three wells IPed 3.7-, 4.3- and 4.7 million a day.

Range reports, “Magnum Hunter’s Addis #2A has produced a cumulative 14 million cubic feet of gas and was producing only a few thousand cubic feet a day in 2012. It’s projected, cumulative, gross recovery will be less than 20 million cubic feet of gas equivalent. This is not enough to justify additional drilling—i.e., it was not commercial—and it was not offset. Magnum’s West Virginia well had similar rates and a similar projected recovery to their Ohio well. Neither well was commercial, in that they could not justify drilling and completion dollars for a new well.”

Range’s Renz 1 has produced 213 million cubic feet of gas and some 400 barrels of oil with an estimated, cumulative, gross recovery of 600 million cubic feet of gas equivalent. “This was commercial and the well was offset with numerous, vertical, Marcellus-shale wells,” Range reports.

It adds, “Range is proud to have pioneered the Marcellus shale (play) a decade ago. Attempts to complete the Marcellus by us and many operators date back several decades, but it was through the hard work and vision of Range’s technical team—led by Bill Zagorski, a geologist recognized by the Pittsburgh Association of Petroleum Geologists as the ‘Father of the Marcellus’ and the 2013 recipient of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists’ Outstanding Explorer Award—that unlocked the play by successfully applying a Barnett-style, hydraulic, fracture-stimulation, which exceeded 1 million gallons, on the Renz #1 in October 2004.

“The Renz is without question the well that pioneered the Marcellus. At the time, it was the largest hydraulic-fracture treatment east of the Mississippi and it was the first commercial well that encouraged Range—and, eventually, other companies—to further develop the Marcellus. Additionally, Range’s development drilling that occurred as a result of the Renz’s success helped to encourage Range to help pioneer and drill the first horizontal Upper Devonian shale and Utica/Point Pleasant shale wells in 2009.

“Today, the Marcellus is the largest, producing, natural-gas field in the United States and—when combined with the Upper Devonian, which sits above the Marcellus, and the Utica/Point Pleasant, which sits beneath the Marcellus—could one day be recognized as the largest known field in the world. At the same time, this discovery now supports more than 240,000 jobs in Pennsylvania, while reducing energy costs for consumers and generating billions of dollars in royalties as well as taxes and fees for state and local governments.”

–Nissa Darbonne, Author, The American Shales; Editor-at-Large, Oil and Gas Investor, OilandGasInvestor.com, Oil and Gas Investor This Week, A&D Watch, A-Dcenter.com, UGcenter.com. Contact Nissa at ndarbonne@hartenergy.com.