Barnett Shale

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Barnett Shale

Area: North Texas

Barnett Shale is located in the Bend Arch-Fort Worth Basin, which is found right under the city of Fort Worth, Texas. This play is 5,000 square miles in size, stretching across at least 17 counties. Though experts believe this play has the largest natural gas reserves in the U.S., production has been hindered by two factors. First, much of the gas field is located beneath the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, a rapidly expanding urban area that limits drilling space. The play is also made up of a very impermeable shale, making this a “tight” gas field, which limited production until the development of hydraulic fracturing technology.

First discovered in 1981 by Mitchell Energy, Barnett Shale provided poor initial results. The company used nitrogen foam fracs and a gel hydraulic frac before finding success with a slickwater frac in 1997, becoming the first company to successfully access shale gas. This has led some to call Barnett Shale the “granddaddy” of American shale plays. This success led to increased interest in the area and more companies beginning drilling in the play. Barnett Shale was the largest producer of natural gas until 2012, when Marcellus Shale surpassed it. In 2011, the play produced 118 million barrels of oil or condensate and nearly 33 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

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