--> The Barnett Shale Play: Phoenix of the Ft. Worth Basin: A History, by George P. Mitchell and Dan B. Steward; #90052 (2006)

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The Barnett Shale Play: Phoenix of the Ft. Worth Basin: A History

George P. Mitchell1 and Dan B. Steward2
1 Mitchell Family Interests, The Woodlands, TX
2 Republic Energy, Dallas, TX

Mitchell Energy performed its first Barnett test in 1982 in southeast Wise County, a failed exploratory deepening. The limited gas recovered on the initial stimulation of the Barnett gave enough encouragement to pursue a better understanding of this potential reservoir.

The Bend Conglomerate had been a significant source of income for Mitchell Energy and it made up a large part of the company's assets. In 1982, our evaluation of the Bend Conglomerate, the dominant producer in the basin, suggested our production base could be sustained through the early 1990's, but would be impossible to maintain after that time. Another reservoir needed to take the place of the Bend, and the Barnett was one of the exploration targets reviewed. Over the next 10 years technology was developed that allowed a small area of the Barnett to be commercial under the favorable gas prices being received through a gas contract. However, this contract provided for a production ceiling.

While the contract pricing was necessary in the early years, it was recognized that the production ceiling would prevent growth. In 1995 Mitchell was bought out of this contract. This provided for more growth if the economics could be improved. Many steps were taken to cut costs and improve productivity; the two most important was use of light-sand stimulation adopted in 1998 and discovering the true gas-in-place in early 1999. Since the late 90's we have seen geological, geophysical, and engineering technology grow and drive this play to the boom it is today.