Powder River Basin – Still Going Strong

The PRB has always been a hotbed for energy resources, mostly known for its abundant coal resources which supplies about forty percent of US coal.  Associated with the coal is coal bed methane which has also been exploited making the basin one of the largest CH4 producers in the state.  Oil activity is nothing new to the area either.

prb-resized-600.jpg.png

The basin is one of the richest petroleum provinces in the Rocky Mountains:

  • In about 700 fields since the discovery of the giant Salt Creek field in 1908 of which 225 are greater than 1 MMBOE in size:

    • More than 2.7 billion barrels of recoverable oil

    • And, over 2.3 TCF gas have been discovered

    • Exploration began in the late 1800's, with the first discovery in the Lower Cretaceous Newcastle Sandstone on the east flank of the basin

The basin has been through many booms, and is experiencing one today thanks to advancements in technology.  Technologies such as:

  • Better drillbits

  • Horizontal drilling technology

  • Increased seismic clarity

  • Fracking

Coupled together, these technologies have unlocked tight oil within the upper cretaceous rocks such as the Frontier Ss, Sussex Ss, Shannon Ss, Niobrara Fm and the MesaVerde Fm.   Production has historically been split between structural and stratigraphic traps but the resurgence in the area has been focused on the later.  The stratigraphically complex exploration targets, with multiple stacked reservoirs, reflect changes in the eustatic sea level and high variability in sediment supply.  Deltaic shoreline variations, transgressions, regressions and tectonism created plays that demand attention to changes across the field, from well to well and within the lateral length of a single well.

Reservoir evaluation through logs are important to understand and account for these changes.  Acquiring logs in horizontal wellbores has been costly and time consuming in the past but with new technology such as Cordax's LWT (logging while tripping) collecting data is safe and efficient.

The basin is one of the richest petroleum provinces in the Rocky Mountains:

  • In about 700 fields since the discovery of the giant Salt Creek field in 1908 of which 225 are greater than 1 MMBOE in size:

    • More than 2.7 billion barrels of recoverable oil

    • And, over 2.3 TCF gas have been discovered

    • Exploration began in the late 1800's, with the first discovery in the Lower Cretaceous Newcastle Sandstone on the east flank of the basin

The basin has been through many booms, and is experiencing one today thanks to advancements in technology.  Technologies such as:

  • Better drillbits

  • Horizontal drilling technology

  • Increased seismic clarity

  • Fracking

Coupled together, these technologies have unlocked tight oil within the upper cretaceous rocks such as the Frontier Ss, Sussex Ss, Shannon Ss, Niobrara Fm and the MesaVerde Fm.   Production has historically been split between structural and stratigraphic traps but the resurgence in the area has been focused on the later.  The stratigraphically complex exploration targets, with multiple stacked reservoirs, reflect changes in the eustatic sea level and high variability in sediment supply.  Deltaic shoreline variations, transgressions, regressions and tectonism created plays that demand attention to changes across the field, from well to well and within the lateral length of a single well.

Reservoir evaluation through logs are important to understand and account for these changes.  Acquiring logs in horizontal wellbores has been costly and time consuming in the past but with new technology such as Cordax's LWT (logging while tripping) collecting data is safe and efficient.