° empty

New oil drilling process in Kingston open door for county

JAY SOWERS/THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — A recently erected drilling rig on Carmel Church Road south of Natchez will utilize horizontal drilling techniques that the operators believe will allow them to drill through a underground chalk formation.
JAY SOWERS/THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — A recently erected drilling rig on Carmel Church Road south of Natchez will utilize horizontal drilling techniques that the operators believe will allow them to drill through a underground chalk formation.

NATCHEZ — A new oil well in the Kingston area south of Natchez hopes to tap a geologic formation never attempted in Mississippi, but, if successful, could draw imitators, local petroleum experts say.

The oil well, located off Carmel Church Road, is using a drilling procedure utilizing long, lateral horizontal drain holes to drill into the Austin Chalk formation.

The Austin Chalk formation is commonly found across numerous oil fields in Texas, Louisiana and in some portions of Mississippi.

The formation ranges in thickness and lies just above the Eagle Ford shale and below the Dessau formation.

The majority of drilling done in Mississippi is vertically drilled into the Wilcox formation, which lies closest to the surface.

MS Onshore LLC, the Jackson company operating the new well, is using a horizontal drilling technique to enhance the productivity of the wells by intersecting multiple fracture sets, according to the drill permit filed by the company to the Mississippi State Oil and Gas Board.

“This unit and well will place the well and drain hole at the optimum geologic location for the purpose of encountering multiple naturally-occurring micro-fractures, thereby significantly increasing the likelihood that commercially productive quantities of hydrocarbons will be encountered in the well,” the permit stated. “A critical element in the drilling of a commercially-productive pool well is the ability to intersect as many naturally-occurring micro fractures as possible.”

Woody Allen of Allen Petroleum Services said the operation is unique in that the company is essentially running two wells simultaneously.

“First they drilled the vertical well to a true vertical depth of 11,500 feet and went back up several feet and ran a horizontal well there,” Allen said. “That type of drilling in the Austin Chalk has never been done before in Mississippi.”

Because the vertical wells would often miss the vertical fractures, Allen said drilling horizontally across the Austin Chalk gives the company a greater chance of hitting the potential vertical fractures.

The complicated drilling procedure also requires a different rig than most rigs normally used in the area, Allen said.

“It’s much larger than any rig that’s historically been used in our area simply because they needed that extra power,” Allen said. “They need that extra horsepower and more rig to go horizontal to be comfortable knowing they have enough power to do it.”

A typical rig drilling in the Wilcox formation can take up to one week to drill, Allen said. The new rig in the Kingston area will take approximately 45 to 50 days to drill, he said.

The state board approved the company’s application on March 20, and Allen said they began drilling a few weeks after.

Allen said a successful venture from the Jackson company could lead to a variety of other similar productions in the area.

A law that reduces severance tax for horizontally drilled oil wells for the first 30 months of production could also help entice companies to the area, Allen said. The law goes into effect July 1.

“This could be good for the region if it does open up some opportunities,” Allen said. “But it’s never been done here, and it’s a new process, so we’ll see how it goes.”