Yet another Gulf Coast oil play may have the potential to yield millions of barrels of high quality crude oil… but don’t look for it in Alabama. 

The Tuscaloosa Marine Shale holds an estimated 7 to 9 million barrels of light sweet crude spanning across a large slice of mid-Louisiana and extends into counties in southwest Mississippi.  LSU research says the TMS is deposited in a marine environment that existed across the Gulf Coast region approximately 90 million years ago. So why is it blossoming now?

The TMS includes the Eagle Ford Shale being similar in geological age. And to put it simply, fracking has made this somewhat overlooked formation geologically attractive and accessible.  According to the Dallas Morning News, a steady trickle of drilling has already boosted the rural region’s economy and spending by two oil companies could make 2014 the year that many locals cash in on the oil far beneath their feet. 

Those companies are Encana Corp., based in Dallas, and Goodrich Petroleum, based in Houston.  Industry analysts say they expect the companies to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on TMS.  By April of this year, 20 wells were drilling and today more than 30 wells across the region are bringing wealth to the surface.  Recent estimates have oil companies leasing as much as 1.7 million acres of TMS land in Louisiana and Mississippi, spending more than $300 million.

In Pike County, Mississippi officials say there’s potential for thousands of new jobs and billions of dollars in new income.

How substantial might TMS be?

In a June 18 E&P Summit document by Goodrich Petroleum, the company  said: “initial production results are very positive and improving.  The Economics (of TMS) are potentially superior to those of Eagle Ford Shale.”

 It’s important to note now that the LSU estimate of the reserves contained at TMS was calculated in 1997.  It’s never been updated.   Do you find that a bit puzzling?