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Oil & Gas 360: “How One Man’s Decision Cracked Open an Energy Revolution: the Marcellus Shale Turns Ten”

Nov 17, 2014

EnerCom, Inc.’s “one-stop source of news, information and analysis” Oil & Gas 360 recently featured Range’s pioneering role in the discovery and development of the Marcellus Shale in their feature story “How One Man’s Decision Cracked Open an Energy Revolution: the Marcellus Shale Turns Ten

The Marcellus shale represents almost 20% of U.S. natural gas production. Ten years ago it was zero.

Jeff Ventura is well aware of the oil and gas history associated with the state of Pennsylvania.

Titusville, 1859—Edwin Drake drilled the first commercially successful oil well to a depth of 69 feet. That well gave birth to the global petroleum industry. A hundred forty-five years later, lightning struck again in Pennsylvania. This time it was 150 miles south of Titusville, near Mt. Pleasant Township in October of 2004, when Ventura made a single decision.

With one year under his belt as Chief Operating Officer of Range Resources (ticker: RRC), Ventura was approached by a company geologist named Bill Zagorski who had returned from a visit to Texas’ Barnett shale, the birthplace of the shale revolution.

Zagorski said he had a ‘eureka moment’ after his visit with a colleague working in the Barnett. At the meeting he told his COO that he knew of a shale that he believed was much like the Barnett—the Marcellus shale in Pennsylvania. “The advantage being that the Marcellus covered a lot bigger area and came with a lot more upside,” as Ventura would later sum things up.

At the meeting, Zagorski proposed to Ventura that the company go back into an unsuccessful exploration wellbore that had sucked up millions of the company’s capital, thus far to no benefit. The bore, known as Renz #1, already had its surface area restored and was slated to be plugged and abandoned. Zagorski’s idea was to go back into the well and specifically target the Marcellus shale layer using a hydraulically fractured well completion.

“Bill presented the idea and he presented it very well,” Ventura said when retelling the tale to the American Association of Petroleum Geologists as the organization’s 2013 Halbouty lecturer. 

“The conventional wisdom was: don’t test, it won’t work, it’s been tried before… . Decades of drilling through [the Marcellus] show that it’s water sensitive, it’s not going to work.” But Zagorski was positive about the prospect and had ample data to back up his idea, including documentation of numerous gas shows for the Renz #1 and other wells in the area. As Ventura later summed it up, “creativity with strong scientific basis topped conventional wisdom.”

After a lengthy discussion with the Range exploration team, Ventura approved Zagorski’s idea and told the Range team to “put a big, Barnett style water frac on it.”

That single business decision resulted in the discovery of what would become the largest producing natural gas field in the U.S., estimated to be the second largest on the planet, behind only the South Pars gas field in the Persian Gulf. The Marcellus shale boom was officially born.

“Looking back, it was one of the best decisions of my life,” Ventura, now CEO of Range, said.

To read the full story click here.

Range also chronicles some of critical highlights of the Company’s success, including the development of the Marcellus Shale in the Company Timeline. For more information on Range’s industry-leading Marcellus position please visit the Marcellus Division section of the Company website, which includes important data and maps of the Company’s operations.

 

2014 Range Resources (NYSE: RRC) CEO Jeff Ventura Interview at EnerCom Oil & Gas Conference