Although most attention is focused on the emerging shale plays in the United States, like the Haynesville and Marcellus Shale, the Pinedale Anticline Field still keeps on trucking quarter after quarter, and shows no signs of a slow down. Many may have lost sight of just how good this field is despite being under development for years. (For a primer on the oil industry, refer to our Oil and Gas Industry Primer.)
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Unlike the shale plays, the Pinedale is a "tight sands" formation that has an estimated 58.7 Tcf of original gas in place (OGIP). The industry believes that approximately 38.2 Tcf is recoverable. Hydraulic fracturing is still needed here, however, to unlock the gas.
Ultra Petroleum (NYSE:UPL) is generally recognized as one of the leaders in the field. The company has more than 121,000 acres under lease, and has grown production at a compound annual growth rate of 43% since 2003.
Questar Corp. (NYSE:STR) is an active developer in the Pinedale Field, where it produced 14.1 Bcfe of natural gas in second quarter. This production is still growing at double digits, and was 13% higher than the same quarter of 2008.
The company is working on efficiencies here as well. Its cost to drill has fallen 17% from the peak to $5.2 million per well, and average days to drill are now at 23.
Questar Corp is large enough to play in many areas, and is allocating 40% of its $860 million capital budget to the Haynesville Shale. This is the same amount as the Pinedale acreage is getting. Keith O. Rattie, the CEO of Questar called the plays "two of the most economic natural gas plays in the U.S."
Anadarko Petroleum (NYSE:APC) made a major move into the Pinedale when it purchased Western Gas Resources in 2006. The company had interests in 900 wells there at the end of 2008, and during the second quarter the company drilled 77 wells, all on a non-operating basis.
Interestingly, Anadarko Petroleum has so many assets that it didn't even mention the Pinedale in its earnings release, with only a cursory mention in its operations update. That's a nice situation to be in for any operator.
The Pinedale is not just the province of the independent oil and gas companies. Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE:RDS.A) is involved in the area through its Shell Exploration & Production Company subsidiary. The company has 90 wells operating.
A micro cap player in the field is Bucking Horse Energy (TSX:BUC), which is partnering with some of the larger companies. Bucking Horse Energy has 4,040 net acres under lease, and believes it has hundreds of locations on that acreage as the industry down spaces to five- to- 10-acre spacing between wells for drilling.
The Pinedale Field hasn't lost any of its luster as it continues to grow and attract capital from the exploration and production industry, proving that shale is not the only game in town. (For additional reading, check out Understanding Oil Industry Terminology.)
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