November 17, 2009 / 8:26 PM / in 8 years

Nexen sees tenfold jump in Horn River gas output

* Sees output of up to 200 mmcf/d

* Looking to better a break-even price of $5-$6/mcf (In U.S. dollars unless noted)

CALGARY, Alberta, Nov 17 (Reuters) - Nexen Inc NXY.TO, Canada’s No. 4 independent oil explorer, expects to boost production from its shale gas properties at least tenfold in the next two years, its chief executive said on Tuesday.

Nexen aims to produce 150 million to 200 million cubic feet of gas a day at its Horn River, British Columbia, acreage by Sept. 2011, up from 15 million today, CEO Marvin Romanow said.

This is up from just 2 million a day a year ago in the region, one of several North American shale gas plays that have created an industry buzz in recent years, Romanow said in webcast remarks at an investor conference in New York.

“Our early-stage planing for the winter of 2010-2011 is for an 18-well pad. That should take us to somewhere between 150 and 200 million cubic feet a day of natural gas in September of 2011,” Romanow said.

That would be up from a targeted 60 million a day in the autumn of 2010, he said.

The company has pegged reserves at its 88,000 acre Horn River holdings at 3 trillion to 6 trillion cubic feet.

Such unconventional gas prospects are known for large deposits but require expensive rock fracturing to allow the gas to flow freely.

It has five wells currently pumping between 15 million and 20 million cubic feet a day, he said.

Romanow said the project breaks even with gas prices at $5 to $6 per thousand cubic feet, with opportunities to better that. The current gas price is just above $4.50.

Other major players with holdings in the Horn River region include Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N), EOG Resources (EOG.N) and EnCana Corp (ECA.TO).

Nexen shares were up 21 Canadian cents at C$26.75 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

$1=$1.05 Canadian Reporting by Jeffrey Jones; editing by Rob Wilson

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