While the emerging Woodbine play in East Texas poses a highly variable stratigraphy, the results can be robust if you know how to play it, says Crimson Exploration chief executive Allan Keel . “We don’t see the Woodbine play as being a blanket play like the Eagle Ford, Bakken or Haynesville shales—it changes as you move across the area.”

Nonetheless, “the results we’ve seen from our operations and from our neighbors’ operations are outstanding,” Keel told an IPAA/ Tipro audience in Houston in May.

Houston-based Crimson Exploration holds some 18,000 net acres in Madison and Grimes counties, the epicenter of the developing play. It drilled its first horizontal well in March. The Mosley #1H came on at 1,200 barrels of oil equivalent per day and has made more than 60,000 barrels of oil equivalent (BOE) in its first two months, one of the play’s top producers to date out of more than 100 horizontal completions.

“We’re excited,” Keel said. “This is a fantastic area.”

His enthusiasm is beginning to spread. Focused in a six-county area that also includes Leon, Robertson, Brazos and Walker counties, small independents such as CML Exploration , Petromax Operating , Woodbine Acquisition LLC and the privately held Crimson Energy Partners III have dominated the land heretofore. But recent results have attracted large independents including EOG Resources Corp ., Devon Energy Corp ., Chesapeake Energy Corp ., Encana Corp . and the newly formed Halcon Resources Corp . jockeying for position.

Halcon president Steve Herod likes the legacy conventional production history of the East Texas play and the opportunity to apply modern-day unconventional drilling and completion technology.

“Our hope is it will be repeatable and consistent over a fairly large area,” he says. “The economics are quite attractive—you can drill these wells for $6 million or less and get 400,000 BOE estimated ultimate recoveries (EURs) on average.”

While the Woodbine formation gets marquee billing, the allure of the region is its stacked pay. Up to nine different producing horizons plus three shales are present. Also enticing producers: the Buda, Georgetown, Edwards, Glen Rose and Eagle Ford.

Global Hunter Securities investment banker Michael Bodino knows the play well. He has been following it for two years, helping Woodbine Acquisition with $250 million in funding to make its entry purchase in May 2011. “In this East Texas Cretaceous play, there are just big, thick sections of sediment—thousands of feet