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Stratigraphy and Petroleum Potential of the Niobrara Formation and underlying Late Cretaceous Mancos Group, Piceance Basin, Northwest Colorado, USA

Krueger, Martin C.; Sonnenberg, Stephen

The Piceance Basin of Northwestern Colorado has been a prolific petroleum producer for many decades. In the last few years horizontal drilling and multi-stage hydraulic fracturing successes have greatly increased interest in the Niobrara Formation in the Piceance Basin, a sparsely studied interval in this locale. This study attempts to detail the complex subsurface stratigraphy of the Niobrara Formation across the entire basin and add clarity to the total organic carbon and maturity in each of the facies. Well log correlation of each facies illustrates thickness and structural variation as well as aids in carrying Denver Basin Niobrara nomenclature into the Piceance Basin for clarity. Cuttings and core sample results from Niobrara penetrating wells, including the recent Laramie Energy Fletcher Gulch 4-24-2H horizontal well, are analyzed by a Source Rock Analyzer (SRA) to obtain the hydrocarbon potential. These data are used as an analog to calibrate well log-derived total organic carbon (TOC).

Calculated and measured TOC is mapped across the basin to identify possible variations in deposition and maturity. Ultimately, areas of the highest original gas in place, economic Niobrara targets that are currently unexplored or underexplored, and liquids rich intervals, are pinpointed. The Piceance Basin has great potential for further petroleum exploration and has great potential for further oil and gas production in the underexplored producing fields to date. Headlines of Piceance Basin Niobrara production from both Encana Corporation and Antero Resources suggest great potential.


AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90163©2013AAPG 2013 Annual Convention and Exhibition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, May 19-22, 2013