Got left out of the land rush for the Fayetteville, Barnett, Marcellus and Haynesville shale plays? No worries. Plenty of opportunity exists in the Rocky Mountains where just a few players are now tapping the potential, says Shannon Nome and Patrick Johnson, research analysts with Deutsche Bank in a 46-page report titled “From Shale to Shining Shale: A primer on North American natural gas plays." The report notes six emerging Rockies plays that are particularly worth watching: Gothic, Cody, Cane Creek, Baxter, Pierre and Lewis. These plays are at depths of 3,000 to 16,000 feet with multiple pay zones and initial production rates as high as 12 MMcf/d so far. The Cane Creek and Pierre shales may hold multiple Tcfs of reserves. The Baxter, Gothic and Cody are still in the testing phase with lots of unknowns. The Manco is currently in production and commingled with other formations and just now being tested as standalone. Here is what the analysts say about each: Cane Creek: "While perhaps the most unknown of the six, the Cane Creek Shale stands out as the highest-performing play based on recent well results. The formation consists of stacked shales, interbedded with sandstones and carbonates. The total organic content of Cane Creek can be up to 28%. The formation is estimated to have resources of several Tcf. Delta Petroleum, the play’s only known operator, has drilled several producing vertical wells, and is in the process of drilling horizontal completions which should improve recoveries. We expect DPTR to comment on its latest drilling results near term." Gothic & Cody: "Bill Barrett is the main operator in the Gothic and Cody shales. In the Paradox Basin Gothic Shale, the company is partnered with Williams and is currently shooting 3-D seismic to identify horizontal test well locations. Another potential pay zone that lies above the Gothic Shale is the Hovenweep Shale, where BBG plans to drill a vertical test this year. In the Cody Shale, Bill Barrett and partner Devon are assessing test well results and 3-D seismic. Should the company develop the Cody Shale, it will be required to build infrastructure in the Montana Thrust Belt." Pierre: "The Pierre Shale is operated by Pioneer Natural Resources, the top producer in the Raton Basin and the only company to release results from the shale to date. XTO and El Paso hold acreage adjacent to Pioneer and are assumed to be testing the shale. So far, Pioneer has drilled 10 vertical wells targeting one zone. Although this shale is still being tested, Pioneer estimates it has up to 21 tcf of gas in place. Significant upside may be realized following the drilling of horizontal wells which will test the four remaining zones inthe Pierre Shale. Pioneer sees 1,200 drilling locations based on 80-acre spacing." Baxter: "The Baxter Shale is an overpressured reservoir in the Vermillion Basin, which is located within the Greater Green River Basin. It has one of the largest gas in place resources of any US shale, estimated to be 440 bcf/sq. mile. However, Questar, Kodiak and its partner Devon have not been able to fully exploit the shale due to the high well cost and low IPs. We expect further drilling tests from Kodiak and Devon in the Baxter over the next 12-18 months." Lewis: "The Lewis Shale, a sandy siltstone with four pay intervals, is commingled with the deeper Mesaverde and Dakota formations in the San Juan Basin and the shallower Almond formation in the Greater Green River Basin. Operators typically complete the Lewis as a secondary zone. In the San Juan Basin, the main players are ConocoPhillips, BP, Chevron and XTO. Within the Greater Green River Basin, Continental Resources, BP and Anadarko are assumed to be testing the Lewis Shale, due to their large positions in Wamsutter." Steve Toon, Editor, A&D Watch; Contributing Editor, Oil and Gas Investor; www.OilandGasInvestor.com; stoon@hartenergy.com