The Tuscaloosa Marine Shale Brings New Attention to Louisiana


An old formation is getting new attention in Louisiana. Add the Tuscaloosa Shale to the growing list of formations that are drawing oil and gas companies to rethink their strategies in shale plays.

Headlines like “Is Tuscaloosa Shale next big thing for oilfield?” and “Louisiana’s new oil boom?” hint at the possibilities of the Tuscaloosa Marine (TMS), a shale that runs across central Louisiana to western Mississippi.

The TMS lies in the middle of the Tuscaloosa formation, long known for producing oil. Now that horizontal drilling techniques have matured, E&P’s are looking to unlock the oil from this shale, which is between 200 and 800 feet thick. Louisiana State University’s Basin Research Institute published a study in 1997 pegging the reservoir at some 7 billion barrels. 


Deeper, Costlier?

Because it is similar in age to the Eagle Ford Shale, in western Louisiana the TMS is sometimes referred to as the Louisiana Eagle Ford (according to AAPG, the Eagle Ford in Louisiana is actually called the Eutaw). However, the TMS is deeper than the Eagle Ford, at depths of anywhere from 11,000 to 14,000 feet. Compare that to the Eagle Ford’s oil window depth of anywhere from 5,000 to 10,000 feet, and cost containment will be key to ensuring oil and gas companies make the most from the Tuscaloosa Marine Shale.

Due to the costs associated with horizontal drilling and multi-stage fracs, already companies such as Newfield, Swift Energy, and Pioneer Natural Resources are talking about their cost saving measures in the Eagle Ford.


The TMS far

Companies with significant leaseholds in the TMS include Devon Energy, Encana, Indigo Energy, Goodrich Petroleum, Sanchez Oil and Gas, and Amelia Resources. Amelia Resources’ President, Kirk A. Barrell, is an active blogger about the TMS; he has plenty of good information at

To help stake a leasehold in the area, Tobin Data provides lease updates in 8 parishes and 1 county in the Tuscaloosa Trend:

  • Adams County, Mississippi
  • Allen Parish, Louisiana
  • Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana
  • Beauregard Parish, Louisiana
  • Evangeline Parish, Louisiana
  • Pointe Coupee Parish, Louisiana
  • Rapides Parish, Louisiana
  • St. Landry Parish, Louisiana
  • Vernon Parish, Louisiana

If we look at the number of new leases filed in these areas from February to July of last year and this year, there is a definite upward trend:

We especially see this in Vernon, Avoyelles and Beauregard Parishes, though activity in those areas is right now likely focused on Austin Chalk fields, according to Amelia Resources.

In light of this activity, we have now added the Tuscaloosa Marine Shale to our Tobin Trends blog, which takes a look at these leasing trends. Each month, we look at how many new leases were filed per parish/county.

Subscribers to Tobin Data get the details, of course, including names of the lessee and lessor, as well as polygon shapefiles if the lease is over 20 acres.

Here's a look at active area of the play in the southeastern part of Avoyelles Parish using our Tobin Data map:

Tuscaloosa Marine Shale Articles and Links

"Operators Look to Unlock Tuscaloosa Marine Shale Potential" - Rigzone
"Tuscaloosa Another Shale Playground" - AAPG Explorer
"Amelia Resources - Tuslcaloosa Trend"


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