2010 – Outstanding Explorer Award

Award: Outstanding Explorer
Awardee: Marvin D. Brittenham
Publication: The Outcrop, November 2010, p. 17

The Rocky Mountain Association of Geologists is pleased to recognize Marvin D. Brittenham with the Outstanding Explorer Award for 2010.

As Team Lead for EnCana’s New Ventures team, Marv helped guide the company to acquisition of Tom Brown in 2004, which led immediately into drilling of the Deep Bossier sands on the East Texas Shelf. This was followed soon after by an extensive leasing program and drilling of three key exploratory wells in the Jurassic Haynesville and Mid-Bossier shales in late 2005 and the beginning of 2006. Following this initial Haynesville drilling, EnCana continued to amass a commanding land position in the greater Haynesville play area of Northwest Louisiana and East Texas. Marv’s vision has been critical in all steps of EnCana’s move into the Jurassic trend plays.

Other companies, such as Chesapeake and Petrohawk, saw the potential in the Haynesville play and by 2007 to 2008 were themselves very active in expanding their land positions and conducting delineation and horizontal development drilling.

Today, the Haynesville shale is recognized as one of the largest continuous gas deposits in North America. Activity in the play has exploded, and production from the play is expanding rapidly. Currently in Louisiana, there are 667 producing wells, 440 wells waiting on completion or testing (drilled but not on final production), 123 wells drilling and 344 wells permitted. By early 2010, production from the play had already exceeded 1 BCFD. Due to the depth (up to 14,000′ TVD), and high temperatures (~350° F), this is a technically challenging play, yet the scale of the resource represented by the Haynesville/Mid-Bossier play at around 250 TCF recoverable is perhaps second only to the Devonian Marcellus Shale of the Appalachian Basin.

Marv earned his BA in Geology in 1969 and an MS in Geology in 1973, both from the University of Montana. His career has included employment by Texaco, Impel, Snyder Oil Company, Columbia Gas Development, Flying J, and EnCana. Marv had his own consulting company for four years. Since the mid 1970s he has held management positions in the companies for which he has worked. Marv has been an RMAG member since 1970. Earlier this year, Marv was elected as Vice President of Sections at AAPG.

Mr. Brittenham’s long and successful career in petroleum exploration, and especially his success in leading EnCana and the petroleum industry toward realization of the huge potential of the Jurassic gas shale plays of East Texas and Louisiana, is celebrated by this award.