There Will Be More Blood: Rango Energy Chasing Gunslinger Lookalike

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Underneath the San Joaquin is an estimated 15 billion barrels of oil, making it the largest oil reserves in the country.

When Occidental Petroleum re-entered the prolific Monterey Shale in California’s San Joaquin Basin, it discovered what it dubbed “the Gunslinger.” Oxy’s persistence and recent drilling activities changed not only the outlook of the region, but that of the country as well.

We’ve known that this area has had oil for many years. The San Joaquin has long been association with oil and gas. Famous for seeps, followed by extensive drilling in the 30s and 40s, the region would later serve as the setting for the movie There Will Be Blood.

But today, Oxy is changing the way we look at the San Joaquin. The Gunslinger wasn’t just any discovery. Over the course of 280 days, Oxy brought this well-known Californian oil field back to life. Production went from zero to 35,000 boe/d, and 1,025 jobs were created.

Underneath the San Joaquin is an estimated 15 billion barrels of oil, making it the largest oil reserves in the country. Explorers have always known it was there, and there are plenty of pumpjacks still operating to prove that point. However, it hasn’t been until more recently that the industry has believed itself capable of truly harnessing the San Joaquin’s potential.

After utilizing an alternative approach to data processing derived from the historical data, Oxy strategically drilled more than 23 holes into its Kettleman North Dome property. These wells would prove to be quite successful, with IP rates ranging as high as 2,000 bbls/d. Kettleman North is estimated to hold almost 460 million barrels of oil, and nearly 3 trillion cubic feet of gas, and there’s new developments surrounding it.

Neighboring Oxy’s Kettleman North Dome properties to the south is Dallas-based Rango Energy. Rango holds over 11,300 acres straddling the Kettleman Middle Dome. This Middle Dome is second of three anticlines in the region, and is believed to hold similar qualities to its Kettleman North cousin, despite a smaller area.

Rango management believes Kettleman Middle Dome will yield similar results. Given the more recent production rates witnessed by Oxy, coupled with wells drilled in the 30s and 40s, which pulled 7,000-8,000 barrels per day, Rango could hold the key to some astounding results of their own very soon.

A video tour of the current drilling operation is on the company’s web page, showing a level of attention to detail eerily similar to those implemented by Oxy. Throughout the process, logging and testing is being done in micro intervals, some being done foot-by-foot. Typically, a crew will take a sample every 30 feet, but on this operation, Rango really wants to know what it is passing through with each additional formation. So far, the results have been positive.

“I had an engineer down in California that looked at our project and said to me you have the potential here of possibly having offshore type production numbers onshore,” says Harp Sangha, CEO of Rango Energy.

The company released an update earlier in July, announcing that they were more than 65% of the way to their target depth. Thus, the market is awaiting the results of this first drilling program knowing that the rig has already passed through the prolific Monterey Shale which is 1,750 feet thick in this portion of the basin.

The Monterey Shale is believed to be the energy savior of the United States, with an estimated 15 billion barrels of oil in place across the field. That’s more than twice that of both the Eagleford (3 billion) and Bakken (4 billion) combined.

Oil has been pumped from the the Monterey for many decades, however, only recently have the benefits of directional drilling, and improved fracking methods been employed. The timing for Rango and its neighbors is better than ever to tackle the Monterey, and already it’s been proven through the Kettleman North and South Domes that this region is quite economic indeed.

Knocking on the door of Rango’s property are the pioneers of the area’s resurgence, none other than Occidental themselves.

“Right now Oxy is drilling a well into the Kreyenhagen Shale, at the boundary or our property,” says Sangha. “You can literally see Oxy’s well right from our pad.”

The property falls within the prolific San Joaquin basin, known to hold not only the Kettleman North, and Kettleman Middle, but also a Kettleman South Dome as well. The South Dome, also known as Lost Hills, which is the 6th largest oil field in the U.S., by remaining reserves.

Rango management believes that the Kettleman Middle Dome, much like the adjacent North and South domes, is a perfect trap for hydrocarbons. The team is targeting the Kreyenhagen Shale for production in the Kettleman Middle Dome area.

“We have rights to every formation up to the surface,” says Sangha. “We’ve already drilled through the Monterrey Shale, and there were indeed hydrocarbons in place.”

Rango is currently drilling through the Temblor Sands, which are directly underneath the Monterey Shale. The target depth is the McAdams formation at 12,000 feet, but prior to that Rango indends to assess what type of production can be made from the Monterey, Temblor, Vaqueros and ultimately the Kreyenhagen.

Since this is the first of multiple wells to be drilled on the property, it’s understandable that Rango would want to see every card in its deck, to see the potential of the different formations.

The last time the McAdams sandstone was drilled at the Kettleman Middle Dome was almost 60 years ago by Standard Oil (now Chevron). Standard gathered good data on the McAdams formation, a porous sandstone, which had seen production from the top 70 feet of horizon which produced approximately 650 barrels per day.

Today, Rango’s geologists understand that there is in fact at least 700 feet of McAdams pay. Production made from from the McAdams in the 30s and 40s was done vertically, without today’s horizontal technology, thus present and future McAdams wells should provide much higher exposures with positive results.

Within the Kettleman North Dome, and nearby Coalinga Field, the McAdams sandstone produced, on average, 2.7 million barrels per well from over 300 McAdams wells.

“Those were staggering numbers,” says Sangha. “All statistically backed by the State of California.”

With the results of the first drilling program right around the corner, Rango has an opportunity to truly cash-in on the region’s potential. Proof that wells in the Kettleman Middle Dome have similar production potential to their Kettleman North and South cousins, should truly put both Rango and the Middle Dome on the map, as the Californa resurgence continues to take hold.

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