ZaZa Energy stakes out the Eaglebine

Houston-based ZaZa Energy will begin hydraulic fracturing of its first well in the Eaglebine play north of Houston by mid-November, the next step in what the company hopes to parlay into a major operation there.

ZaZa, which also has acreage in the Eagle Ford shale and in Europe’s Paris Basin, owns almost 90,000 acres in the Eaglebine, most of it in northern Walker County.

“We have very big hopes for the Eaglebine,” CEO Todd Brooks said. “This is the kind of thing you can build a company around.

He founded ZaZa in 2009 with energy veterans John Hearn Jr. and Gaston Kearby and, in a joint venture with Hess Corporation, began actively leasing in the Eagle Ford.

The company merged with French company Toreador Resources Corp. earlier this year and this summer announced it was ending its venture with Hess.

The Eaglebine sits north of Houston; many operators call it the Woodbine.

ZaZa also has acreage in Grimes and southern Madison counties. Brooks said about one-third of the Eaglebine acreage is part of a joint venture with Range Resources; ZaZa is the operator of that venture.

In addition to its Eaglebine holdings, ZaZa has about 72,000 acres in the Eagle Ford and 24,000 acres in the Paris Basin.

ZaZa, now publicly traded, completed a private offering of $40 million in October. Brooks said it also received $84 million in cash, along with rights to conventional drilling in the Paris Basin, from unwinding the joint venture with Hess. It also received 60,500 acres in the Eagle Ford.

Hess retains unconventional drilling rights in the French basin.

With the capitalization, Brooks said the company is ready to step up its exploration program.

It has completed drilling and running the production casing on its first Eaglebine well, in Walker County, and will begin hydraulic fracturing next week, Brooks said. Initial production is expected to begin in late November.

That rig has been moved to DeWitt County in the Eagle Ford, he said.

But ZaZa will concentrate on the Eaglebine and has entered into a multi-well rig contract with Nabors Drilling USA, he said.

Brooks said the company could be running 15 rigs in the Eaglebine by 2015; some areas may yield both conventional and unconventional targets.

He said ZaZa is in “advanced discussions” about a joint venture to work in the Eaglebine but declined to provide more details.