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Hydrocarbon Accumulations of Mississippian Berea Sandstone in West-Central West Virginia

David L. Cox

The Berea Sandstone is a widely recognized producer of oil and gas in the Appalachian basin. Subsurface mapping, core analysis, and production data from producing wells have been evaluated in west-central West Virginia, where the Berea Sandstone represents a wide range of nearshore and coastal environments. Fluvial system deposits are found in southern Jackson County as channel sands (Gay-Fink) and adjacent deltaic facies. Coastal sediments were deposited to the north as intertidal shoals, tidal flats, and coarse-grained tidal-creek point bars. Marine shelf sands are found to the west.

Hydrocarbon development in the area began in 1907 with the discovery of gas near the town of Gay. Subsequent drilling occurred with oil being discovered in the Liverpool, Garfield, and Silverton oil fields. Shows of gas in the Berea Sandstone, reported by drillers on their way to the deeper Devonian Oriskany Sandstone, prompted the present-day development of the Berea Sandstone.

Hydrocarbon accumulation appears to be primarily controlled by stratigraphic traps, although structural variations within the trap do influence production rates. Core analysis indicates porosity and permeability are directly related to the hydrodynamic processes under which the sands were deposited. Sand deposits lain down by higher energy regimes (shoals, point bars, etc) resulted in better reservoirs and the production of oil. Gas accumulated in the less porous, less permeable sand deposits of the delta front and embayment.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #91031©1988 AAPG Eastern Section, Charleston, West Virginia, 13-16 September 1988.