SAN ANTONIO -- What are the chances a small firm can make a big impact in today’s resource plays? These are immense plays that require staggering amounts of capital and highly valued expertise, after all. Multinationals have waded into the fray, throwing their weight and huge wallets around with seeming abandon.

Nonetheless, small firms can and do survive and prosper in today’s unconventional world. One fine example is Rosetta Resources. The independent started taking leases in 2008. John Clayton, senior vice president, asset development, talked about the company’s evolving strategy in the Eagle Ford play at Hart Energy’s DUG Eagle Ford 2012 Conference & Exhibition in mid-October.

Rosetta initially went the sweat-equity route, said Clayton. It hired a strong technical staff and focused on learning as much about the rocks as possible. Quality over quantity was its mantra, and it prospected for areas it thought were sweet spots. Rosetta also began thinking about full-scale development early in the process, reasoning that when you don’t have a lot of money you tend to be very careful how you spend it. Finally, Rosetta kept a sharp eye on profits and options.

Today, Rosetta has five rigs running in the Eagle Ford. On its 65,000 net acres, the company has completed 100 wells to date and produces in excess of 57,000 gross barrels of oil equivalent (BOE) per day.

Its Gates Ranch property in Webb County is the foundation of its portfolio. Rosetta has completed 70 wells so far on the 26,500-net-acre ranch. “We can find and develop for less than $5 per BOE, and each well will recover 1.7 million BOE,” said Clayton. Product mix is 23% oil and 32% NGLs. At its new development area at Briscoe Ranch, in Dimmit County, estimated ultimate recoveries (EURs) are in the range of 900,000 BOE per well, with a product mix of 24% oil and 36% NGLs. Finally, in its Karnes Trough area, Rosetta has 1,900 net acres and expects EURs of 665,000 BOE, split 68% oil and 13% NGLs. “The economics are tremendous,” he said.

Now, Rosetta is focusing on well spacing and well recoveries on its properties. “Back in 2009, we were talking 100 acres per well,” said Clayton. ‘We’ve grown and learned a lot as an industry since then.” Rosetta currently thinks the correct well spacing on its Gates Ranch property is 50 to 55 acres. That sort of change greatly increases its future locations and its overall potential, and it’s done in its own backyard.

The firm has five rigs running and each rig can drill about 16 wells a year. With the tighter spacing, Rosetta has a drilling inventory of 15 years just on its existing leasehold. “What I would like to leave you with today is: Leave no stone unturned,” said Clayton. “You rarely go wrong when you grow what you know in your own backyard.”