Fayetteville Shale Play FAQ

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Aug. 27, 2007 12:00 am  

What is a play?

The scientific definition of a play is an underground geologic formation in which hydrocarbon accumulations or the prospect of those accumulations occurs. The most common hydrocarbons making up a play are natural gas, oil and coal. A play is also often a general term for a large region or basin of hydrocarbon accumulation used by energy companies to continue exploiting a given trend.

What is the Fayetteville Shale Play?

The Fayetteville Shale is an unconventional gas reservoir located on the Arkansas side of the Arkoma Basin, ranging in thickness from 50 to 325 feet and ranging in depth from 1,500 to 6,500 feet. The Fayetteville Shale is extensive and is present across numerous counties in central and eastern Arkansas, including the counties of Cleburne, Conway, Faulkner, Independence, Johnson, St. Francis, Prairie, Van Buren, White and Woodruff, among others. While shale gas has been explored for and tested as a gas resource since the 1980s, only in recent years has it become an economic source of gas supply. That's because of the advent of better oilfield service and drilling technologies and higher natural gas commodity prices.

What is hydraulic fracturing?

Hydraulic fracturing is a stimulation treatment routinely performed on oil and gas wells in low-permeability reservoirs, such as the Fayetteville Shale Play. Specially engineered fluids are pumped at a high pressure and rate into the reservoir interval to be treated, causing a vertical fracture to open. The wings of the fracture extend away from the wellbore in opposing directions according to the natural stresses within the formation. Proppant, such as grains of sand of a particular size, is mixed with the treatment fluid to keep the fracture open when the treatment is complete.

How are ordinary people making money from energy companies drilling at the Fayetteville Shale Play?

When companies aim to develop mineral resources in an area, like natural gas at the Fayetteville Shale Play, the companies secure mineral lease agreements from mineral owners. The companies typically pay the mineral rights owners upfront for the use of the property, as well as a percentage of the royalties drilled there.

What is a mineral lease?

A mineral lease is a legal binding contract between the mineral owner (lessor) and an individual or company (lessee) that allows for the exploration and extraction of the minerals covered under the lease. Not all leases are exactly the same, and terms and conditions are subject to negotiation by the lessee and lessor, such as cash bonuses and prices paid per acre.

I own land in the Fayetteville Shale Play. Will I be contacted to sign a mineral rights contract?

At this point, much of the land grab is complete, though there are still some leases being signed. What most people don't understand is that mineral rights and surface rights do not go hand-in-hand. It is possible - and quite common - to own land but not own the mineral rights.

How do I find out if I own the mineral rights to my property?



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