The Arkansas, North Louisiana, and East Texas district had a 7% increase in new-field discoveries during 1966, although exploratory drilling decreased 15%. Development drilling declined 36%, and seismic exploration declined 37%.
Exploratory activity was highest in Arkansas, which had the largest drilling program since 1961, a 41.5% increase in wells drilled compared to 1965. An intense search for Smackover production was the primary cause of this increase. This activity is expected to continue in 1967, and, combined with the planned drilling of a 15,000-ft. Paleozoic test in Ashley County by Humble, should give Arkansas another good exploration year.
Independent operators conducted most of the exploratory activity in North Louisiana. The Wilcox Group and the Sligo Formation were the chief targets, and the search for oil in these beds is expected to continue in 1967.
Exploratory activity in East Texas was essentially in the Smackover trend, but during the year more emphasis was placed on drilling to the Cotton Valley and Paleozoic rocks. It is anticipated that these formations will be explored further during 1967.