Niobrara Shale Map and Information

The Niobrara shale is a major oil discovery located in eastern Wyoming, northern Colorado and western Nebraska. This is yet another shale oil play that has resulted from the advances in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing and could be yet another massive oil discovery along the lines of the Bakken Shale in North Dakota. The Niobrara shale lies at a depth of approximately 7000 feet in the hottest part of the play.

The map of the Niobrara shale below:

A well nicknamed “Jake”, drilled into the Niobrara shale formation in Weld County, Colorado, by EOG Resources, is reportedly producing over 1750 barrels of oil a day. The well produced over 50,000 barrels of oil in the first ninety days.  According to state oil and gas commission filings the well could produce over a quarter million barrels.  Imagine hundreds of Niobrara shale wells like “Jake”, over a three state area, and you can get an idea why oil and gas exploration companies are so excited about this new shale oil play. EOG Resources is currently conducting a large 3D geoseismic survey of the Niobrara oil shale in Weld  and Jackson counties of Colorado.

Oil companies such as EOG Resources are betting big on the Niobrara shale oil play. EOG alone has leased over 400,000 acres. As happens when an oil play is brand new and companies are frantically trying to beat each other in leasing up all the available land possible, the company is still keeping what they know close to the vest. “Too soon to tell” is the estimate of reserves listed in the most recent EOG Resources report to investors.

Courthouses and motel parking lots are full, as oil and gas “landmen” rush in to secure deals with ranchers and farmers for the right to drill the Niobrara shale for oil and gas.

EOG Resources has successfully transformed itself from primarily a natural gas focused company to an oil company, with major acquisitions in the Bakken Shale, Eagle Ford Shale and the Niobrara shale.

The Dawn Of The Shale Oil Play

Five years ago “shale oil” was something that was derived from shallow layers of coal like rock, rich in kerogen. Shale oil had to be extracted by crushing the shale, blasting it with steam, etc. Along came the horizontal drilling revolution, which married the relatively new technology of horizontal or directional drilling and hydraulic fracturing. Hydraulic fracturing utilizes high pressure water, sand and chemicals to break apart the shale rock deep underground. When done correctly and following state and national regulations, it is a safe and proven process that has been around since the 1950’s.  It has been the subject of controversy recently, as residents of states such as Pennsylvania suddenly awoke to find a massive natural gas field around them and questioned drilling and its effect on the environment.  Concerns over “frac jobs” should not diminish development of the Niobrara shale formation, since the oil and gas industry is well established, and well regulated in the states where the shale occurs.

This is going to be another big one. Shale formations like the Niobrara shale are proving that the U.S. still has lots of undiscovered oil to be found. Why major new American oil discoveries such as the Niobrara shale and the Eagle Ford shale  are not major news stories is a mystery to this blogger.