Everything about Devon’s Lake Benbrook project in North Texas speaks conservation.
From well pad design to truck traffic-reduction measures, Devon took elaborate steps to be a good neighbor. In the process, the company created what one federal official called a "spectacular" example for oil and natural gas development on public lands.
Many of the conservation measures Devon took at Lake Benbrook also benefit Devon shareholders.
The project features two main well pads, each on privately owned land on the lake’s west side. From those two sites, 56 horizontal wells (35 on one pad, 21 on the other) fan out below the lake. Each well is about 7,000 feet deep, and some are nearly that long.
Devon expects ultimate production from these wells to exceed 275 billion cubic feet of natural gas equivalent — enough to heat almost every home in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex for two years.
Good neighbor principle in action
While planning the larger well pad, Devon purchased a 19-acre surface tract, which included a lakefront home. This purchase eliminated concerns about causing inconvenience to the landowner.
Creating the 35-well pad required demolishing the home. But first, Devon contacted local Habitat for Humanity officials and made this invitation: Take anything you want.
They did. Doorknobs, light fixtures, garage door openers, air conditioning units — even used shingles — were salvaged for construction on future Habitat for Humanity homes.
To mitigate the impact of truck traffic on a local neighborhood, Devon drilled a saltwater disposal well on the property. It also provides a major operational benefit. The well was drilled into the Ellenberger formation, a saltwater aquifer directly below the Barnett Shale.
Creating extra value
Drilling 56 wells from just two pads reduced not only truck traffic and surface impact, but also drilling costs. Devon used two "walking rigs," which compressed the rig's relocation time — normally a full day or longer — into just a few hours. Additionally, extensive planning helped ensure proper well spacing to guarantee maximum recovery of the gas in place.
This benefits not only Devon and its shareholders, but also the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, which has a 12.5 percent royalty interest on minerals produced below the lake.
"It is a spectacular system that Devon has created at Benbrook," said Mike Tupper, who oversees the BLM's mineral interests in Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico. "The operation itself seems very efficient, and as far as limiting your footprint in a public area, it doesn't get much better than that."