Haynesville Shale

Haynesville Shale in Texas

Oil & Gas Attorney Serving Texas & Gulf Coast States

The Haynesville Shale is a natural gas rich geological formation in northwestern Louisiana, southwestern Arkansas, and eastern Texas. The most productive regions include Caddo, Bienville, Bossier, DeSoto, Red River, and Webster parishes in Louisiana and adjacent regions in southwest Arkansas and east Texas. The Haynesville Shale was originally deposited when much of Texas and Louisiana were covered by shallow seas. Rich organic silts were deposited and, over millions of years, were covered and encapsulated in layers of impermeable rock overburden. Over thousands of years under pressure and heat, the carbon rich deposits produced reservoirs of oil and gas.

The Haynesville Shale discovery and development has been described as a modern day gold rush. Some sources have estimated that the Haynesville Shale may be the fourth largest natural gas reserve in the world. Still early in its development, its actual value may not be known for years to come.

Some experts describe it as one of the richest natural gas reserves ever discovered in the region. But most experts agree that it is too early to tell what its productive output will actually be. The Haynesville Shale is a "tight" formation meaning that the rock is not very porous and so gas is not easily extracted from it. Until recently, the tight shale formation was not considered viable for production of natural gas in commercially viable volumes.

New Drilling Techniques for the Haynesville Shale

Vertical wells that drill straight into the ground have been the mainstay of the industry for decades. However, the recent developments of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling techniques have made production of natural gas more viable. Hydraulic fracturing employs high pressure water pumped down into the well to fracture the rock and release gas. Horizontal drilling methods expose more of the shale and natural or induced fractures to the borehole, thereby allowing the well to produce more natural gas. Drilling likely will shift from the long common vertical wells to more expensive horizontal wells that are costlier to produce but more productive in "tight" formations.

Potential Negative Impacts on the Community

As landmen representing oil and gas operators overwhelm county courthouses in the region, and landowners sign oil and gas leases then wait for royalties to start pouring in, some are concerned about the potential for negative impacts to the environment, their property values, and the community as a whole. Some are already predicting that land values in the city could fall, and that homeowners should expect reductions in the value of their homes for drilling activity that may be, quite literally, in their backyards. Truck and heavy equipment traffic have already increased dramatically in some communities, and noise levels from the rigs are a nuisance to some that is barely tolerable.

There is also the possibility of environmental damage from oil and gas drilling operations. For example, it can take millions of gallons of water to drill and finish a well using hydraulic fracturing techniques. Worse, the byproduct—often full of salt, hydrocarbons, and fracturing fluids—has to be disposed of somewhere. The most popular method in use is, unfortunately, another well called an "injection well" into which the saltwater is injected for disposal. The process can lead to unintended consequences including surface and water contamination. Already, one Texas community has had to fight for clean drinking water after a saltwater injection well poisoned the water supply.

Experienced Oil & Gas Lawyer in Houston

If you own mineral interests in the Haynesville Shale region, you may already have been approached by landmen wanting to negotiate oil and gas leases with you. You owe it to yourself to be fully informed of the many issues that should be addressed to maximize your potential revenues, and to protect your property and interests. Call our Houston litigation attorney to understand your rights and to get a legal advocate on your side.

Contact a Houston oil and gas lawyer to learn more about your options.

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