West Texas's Cline shale formation is wide and deep

Abilene Reporter-News:
Situated in the middle of the map of the Cline Shale, a huge pocket of oil below 10 West Texas counties, is Mitchell County. By traveling to oil-rich regions that have boomed elsewhere, Mitchell economic development and county government officials and local residents are learning how to tap into a potential bounty under their land.

Lying approximately 9,250 feet below the surface, the Cline, an emerging unconventional resource play on the eastern flank of the Midland Basin, runs roughly 140 miles north-south and is 70 miles wide through portions of Mitchell, Coke, Fisher, Glasscock, Howard, Irion, Nolan, Reagan, Scurry and Sterling counties.

Initial estimates indicate the Cline holds more than 30 billion barrels of recoverable oil, exceeding both the Bakken fields in North Dakota and Eagle Ford Shale — shale is an abundant sedimentary rock formation — in South Texas by nearly 50 percent.

There already is so much oil production coming out of Eagle Ford Shale, found just below Bexar County and 400 miles long and 50 miles wide, according to the Texas Railroad Commission. Within eight years, Eagle Ford, which affects 30 counties that touch the Mexican border and extend to East Texas, and Bakken will produce more oil annually than Saudi Arabia, predicts the International Energy Agency.

Saudia Arabia produce 4.02 billion barrels of crude oil annually, roughly about 12 million barrels a day, according to the International Energy Agency.

The Cline reservoir of oil is believed to be 200 to 550 feet deep, the equivalent of 10 Eagle Ford shales stacked on each other. The shale contains 85 percent oil and liquids-rich gas.

In September, Oklahoma City-based Devon Energy closed a $1.4 billion joint venture agreement with Japan's Sumitomo Corp. The agreement will cover 650,000 acres in the Cline and Midland-Wolfcamp shales.

This means Sumitomo is investing $1.4 billion in exchange for 30 percent of Devon's interest in these projects.

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... Cities within the Cline have attracted developers to build homes apartments, restaurants and other businesses to reinforce somewhat aging and a few outdated infrastructures.

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Government leaders in Mitchell County, particularly those in Colorado City, are working with developers to build housing units, Young said. The county also has a power plant — not associated with oil — coming to town.

"Our city is working hard to get the infrastructure in place to accommodate the new businesses," Young said. "We have hotels being built and we have restaurants coming in. It's an exciting time but we're just trying to keep up much less stay ahead."

Sweetwater, which is expected to be the hub of the Nolan County operations, is experiencing a growth that several months ago was not foreseen, according to Ken Becker, executive director of Sweetwater Enterprise for Economic Development.

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These West Texas Counties that a few years ago were losing population are getting ready for the kind of growth that has already hit the Eagle Ford area.  Getting the housing ready is one thing, but they need to start planning for beefing up the roads to deal with the heavy trucks that will be carrying drilling and fracking material to the well sites.

The Cline has the potential to dwarf current shale developments and along with a massive shale play in the Wolfcamp formation could get the US to independent status well ahead of projections.  There is also a massive shale play in California south of San Francisco that could also dramatically increase production if they are wise enough to exploit it.

Texas state and local government entities appear to be ready to deal with this massive new tight oil play.  Assuming the federal government does not interfere with the development it is going to be a big b oost to West Texas counties.

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