Shale plays are popping up everywhere this spring, like the crocuses in my front yard. One of the latest is in Quebec, Canada, in the Utica Shale. Denver-based Forest Oil talked about the Utica in a recent analyst meeting. The Utica shale is 500 feet thick and occurs at depths between 2,300 and 6,000 feet in Forest's area, which stretches from Montreal to Quebec City. The play offers several attractive features: excellent rock properties, low acreage costs, and proximity to premium gas markets. According to Forest, net resource potential on its 339,000 gross acres totals 4.1 trillion cubic feet of gas. That's because the average gas-in-place is 93 billion cubic feet per section. To date, the company has drilled two vertical wells that tested at rates up to 1 million cubic feet per day. The gas is 88% to 97% methane, and between 1,027 and 1,136 BTU. This year, the company plans three horizontal wells with 2,000-foot laterals. Four stimulations per well are expected. The horizontals are budgeted at up to $4 million each. If the concept works, Forest will kick off full-scale development in 2010. -by Peggy Williams, Senior Exploration Editor, Oil and Gas Investor Contact me at