Player emerges in Austin Chalk, La.-Miss plays

An unnamed new player has bought up acreage in Louisiana’s portion of the Austin Chalk formation, as speculation about an onshore drilling resurgence in the play continues.
Amelia Resources LLC, a New Orleans-based exploration and production company, said Monday it sold 40,000 net lease acres in the Louisiana Austin Chalk and Louisiana-Mississippi Stack plays. The company did not name the U.S.-based buyer or sale price.
“With consistent higher oil prices, the stacking of the Austin Chalk and Tuscaloosa Marine Shale make for a very attractive target,” Amelia President Kirk Barrell said in a statement. “We are excited to bring another new player to the region.”
Barrell said continued success in Texas’ portion of the Austin Chalk play presents an “excellent opportunity” for expansion into the formation. Amelia will debut an additional 394,000 acres this week.
Leasing in the formation dried up about two decades ago until a handful of companies established positions over the past year. The oil-rich Tuscaloosa Marine shale, which sits underneath the Austin Chalk, has seen a dearth of activity, since shale formations in places like Texas became were cheaper to drill.
Earlier this year, ConocoPhillips became the latest big name to establish a position in the Austin Chalk, including through the acquisition of 85,000 acres in the formation for $87 million from Amelia.
EOG Resources announced last fall it had leased 130,000 acres and drilled a test well in Avoyelles Parish. Marathon Oil also has a position in the play.
It is still too early to tell whether the formation will lead to an onshore drilling resurgence, but drillers have indicated new drilling technology and rising oil prices could spark activity in the region.

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