January 5, 2010 (Dallas Morning News) Big Oil is coming to the Barnett Shale. After half-hearted attempts to exploit North Texas' natural gas field, several major oil companies recently signed multibillion-dollar deals with independent natural gas outfits that drill in the Barnett Shale.The latest move came Monday, when Chesapeake Energy Corp. announced it sold a quarter of its Barnett Shale assets for $2.25 billion to France's Total S.A., the fifth-largest integrated oil company in the world.
"The smaller players find the fields, and the majors buy and fully develop the fields over time. That was pre-shale. That's gone back 100 years," said Glenn Darden, chief executive of Barnett Shale operator Quicksilver Resources Inc.
The shift from small, independent operators to the majors is a rite of passage for any field as it matures. It also shows the confidence among energy executives that demand for natural gas will rise and that well techniques developed in North Texas can work around the world.
By waiting to buy in the Barnett Shale, the majors missed the boom in natural gas prices a few years ago. And they're stepping in just as environmental complaints among residents lthreaten stiffer drilling regulations. New rules could make natural gas production more expensive.
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